EU paves the way for agreement with Yugoslavia

EU delegation visits Belgrade to prepare talks on a stabilisation and association agreement with Yugoslavia

The Yugoslav authorities removed a major hurdle in their relations with the international community by arresting the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who is held responsible for much of the region’s ethnic wars.

Kosovo and Montenegro are major sources of instability in region, though, attempting to set up their own nation states. Brussels hopes that a clear prospect of integration into the European Union would help resolve inter-ethnic issues in a wider European context.

 

An EU delegation visited Belgrade to prepare talks on a stabilisation and association agreement with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The agreement will give important trade concessions to the Yugoslav federation, including Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, and will give the country the prospect of joining the European Union in the long run.

 

The former Federation of Socialist Republics of Yugoslavia had a co-operation agreement with the European Community until the federation's break-up in 1991. The agreement was then abolished, and the EU concluded a new Europe association agreement with the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia in 1997, and a Stabilisation and association agreement with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in April 2001. Negotiations on this type of agreement are underway with Croatia, another former Yugoslav republic. The remaining two South Slavic countries Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are expected to join the process in the near future.

The EU Nice Summit opened the door to five Balkans countries - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Macedonia - by offering them the prospect of joining the Union. The EU introduced a new form of co-operation agreements for these countries, the so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreements, whose objective it is to foster co-operation in the region, liberalise trade with the EU and prepare ground for subsequent integration in the EU. Macedonia was the first country to sign such an agreement on 9 April 2001.

 

The European Commission will set up a task force to prepare for the negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Belgrade. Brussels and Belgrade are keen on starting the talks as soon as possible, however, no timetable has been fixed yet.

 

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