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LDAs AND ALDA WELCOME SERBIA-KOSOVO AGREEMENT AND SERBIA'S CANDIDATE STATUS FOR EU MEMBERSHIP



LDAs and ALDA welcome the latest achievements in the integration of the Western Balkans countries into the European family.
“Without a doubt, the Agreement on regional representation of Kosovo is a significant step towards the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade and  recently granted candidate status for Serbia will bring further stability and overall progress to the region” says a joint statement of LDAs and ALDA.
 
The network of the LDAs and ALDA consider the Enlargement of the European Union in the region an element for stabilisation and peace, based on local governance and citizens' participation.
“LDAs and ALDA will continue to actively support all Western Balkan countries on their way to European Union offering their knowledge and experience” states LDAs and ALDA document.

The European Council Yesterday agreed to grant Serbia the status of candidate country, following a recommendation by the General Affairs Council on 28 February.
It endorsed the Council's conclusions, which confirmed that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress in the implementation of agreements reached in the dialogue with Kosovo, including on integrated border management. The Council noted that an agreement has been reached on inclusive regional cooperation, and that Serbia has actively cooperated to enable the EU's EULEX and the UN's KFOR missions to execute their mandates.

Pristina an Belgrade reached an agreement on regional representation and cooperation at the end of the ninth meeting of the dialogue foreseen in UN General Assembly Resolution 64/298 that was held with the facilitation of the EU on 22-24 February 2012, in Brussels.
The meeting was chaired by the EU facilitator, Mr. Robert Cooper. Dr. Tahiri led the Kosovo delegation and Mr. Stefanovic led the Serbian delegation.
Both parties confirmed their commitment to the fundamental EU value of effective, inclusive and representative regional cooperation. The agreement will allow for Kosovo to participate and sign new agreements on its own account and to speak for itself at all regional meetings. (Until now agreements have been signed by UNMIK on behalf of Kosovo).
Kosovo* will be the only denomination to be used and the footnote to be applied to the asterisk will read: "This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence".
The parties also concluded a technical protocol on the implementation of the IBM deal reached on 2 December 2011. This turns the agreed conclusions of December last year into an operational agreement. It will enable those concerned to start work on practical questions such as the budget, design and location of the facilities.
The meeting also provided an opportunity to review progress on the implementation of other earlier agreements. The parties acknowledged that progress has been made and committed themselves to proceed rapidly in this process. In this context, the parties in particular look forward to a meeting of the Civil Registry working group next week with the aim to accelerate the pace of implementation in this area.
High Representative/Vice President Ashton stated that "I want to congratulate both parties on these two substantial agreements. One puts into operational form the agreement on integrated management of crossing points. The other consolidates regional cooperation and ensures that everyone is properly represented. Both are further steps along the European path."
As regards Serbia, these agreements on regional cooperation and IBM are particularly welcome in view of the deliberations in the Council next week regarding candidate status for Serbia.
As regards Kosovo, this is important as it makes Kosovo a full participant in its own right in regional meetings and events and will allow for further progress to contractual relations with the EU. Kosovo will thus follow the same European course as all others in the Western Balkans, in line with its European perspective. In this light, the Commission proposes to launch a feasibility study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Kosovo and the EU.
Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle underlined that "The deal demonstrates a commitment on both sides to their common European future. Today's agreement also reinforces regional cooperation, good neighbourly relations and the Enlargement agenda in the Western Balkans region".



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