Italy: EU’s Attitude To Serbia ‘Not Good’

resizer69Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini says the attitude of the European Union towards Serbia “has not been good as of lately”.

To the remark that he had recently presented an eight-point plan for a speedier EU integration of the Balkans, he underlined that many were wrong to believe that all the Balkan countries were being treated in the same way.

“This is not true, especially not when it comes to Serbia which we have been treating very badly for some time now,” Frattini said during an interview for the Vienna daily Der Standard. 

“I also have to point to the fact that certain European have a very poor knowledge about the Balkans,” he added.

“Unfortunately, this is a fact,” the Italian foreign minister stressed.

Serbia’s progress towards the EU depends on the arrest and extradition to The Hague of remaining war crimes fugitives, particularly former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic.

The European Commission has also expressed concern about Belgrade’s policy of handing out Serbian passports to Kosovar Albanians, saying it limits Serbia’s controls on immigration. This could present a hurdle in the lifting of visas put up against Serbs when they travel to EU countries.

Frattini’s eight-point plan calls for the cancellation of visa requirements for Serbian citizens. Italy wants the European Commission to prepare a report on that issue by the end of May, so that a non-visa regime could take effect by the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. The priority countries for non-visa regimes will be Serbia and Macedonia, says the Italian Embassy statement.

Speaking about Croatia, he underlined that he agreed with his Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger that if no progress was to be made soon regarding the country’s border dispute with Slovenia, it would be impossible to conclude the EU admission talks by the end of the year.

Under the eight-point plan, Frattini has also asked the EC to start preparing a technical report on Montenegro, followed by Albania and Serbia. “One of our goals is for Croatia to be in the EU by 2010“, according to the plan.

Italian officials recognise the urgency of solving the problem of the name of Macedonia, in order to kick-start negotiations for its accession to the EU and NATO. The plan also points out the importance of economical support to Kosovo; the motto of civil and military forces in Kosovo should be „We came together and we are going to leave together“, it reads.

The Frattini plan further suggests that a meeting of EU and Western Balkan countries should be held, with US participation, in the first half of 2010.

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