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Photo: Markéta Trnková (©MZV)
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Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on the annual Enlargement Package published by the European Commission

 

The EU enlargement policy is one of the long-standing Czech foreign policy priorities.  On 29 May 2019, the European Commission published its annual summary report on the EU’s enlargement policy and a package of evaluation reports on individual aspirant countries. This year, the Commission again recommends the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. Montenegro and Serbia are invited to make greater effort to deliver on the key reforms. The Commission finds that Turkey's accession process cannot yet be unlocked due to internal political developments in the country. The Commission also published its long-awaited opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for the EU membership. Kosovo’s integration efforts remain hampered by the country's internal political situation and its complicated relations with Serbia.

As in the previous years, the Czech Republic welcomes the steps made in the context of the EU enlargement policy. We share the view that the enlargement policy is a tool for building stability, security and economic growth in the region. We agree that a credible European perspective is the key driver for transformation, reconciliation and dissemination of the democratic values, rules and standards, which we share in the European Union.

The Czech Republic appreciates the efforts of Montenegro and Serbia to adopt and implement domestic reforms. We welcome the last year's results, which confirm the determination of both countries to continue on their path towards the Union. On the other hand, we regret that in the Commission’s view these countries have made less progress than expected in key areas such as the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. We are confident that both Montenegro and Serbia will work to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission, and that the pace of their accession talks will speed up once again. We hope that the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue will continue. Normalisation of mutual relations is necessary for the two countries to move ahead with their integration process, as well as for stability of the whole region.

The Czech Republic shares the Commission's perception of Turkey as a key partner and EU candidate country. We value highly Turkey's contribution to the management of the refugee and migration crisis. We welcome the improvement of its relations with some of the EU Member States. We hope that Turkey will similarly put its relations with Greece and the Republic of Cyprus on a new footing. We regret that Turkey has failed to make greater progress in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, and in a number of other areas that were subject to evaluation.

The Czech Republic welcomes the fact that North Macedonia has again received the Commission's unconditional recommendation for the opening of EU accession talks. In the past year, the country made intensive effort to continue its reforms and achieved further significant progress in the key areas. North Macedonia's upcoming entry in NATO will be good news for the whole region. The Czech Republic expects, and fully supports, the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia without further delay. The EU's favourable decision in this matter is a precondition for the continuing of positive processes in the country and for successful implementation of the historic Prespa Agreement.

The Czech Republic welcomes the fact that Albania has again received the Commission's unconditional recommendation for the opening of EU accession talks. An especially positive development is the continuation of the complicated reform of the country's justice system and the fight against organised crime, especially the fight against cannabis production. With regard to the significant progress achieved by Albania, the Czech Republic fully supports the opening of accession talks without further delay.   

The publication of the Commission's opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for the EU membership is welcome news for the country and the whole region. The Commission's opinion provides Bosnia and Herzegovina with a roadmap for its EU integration process. We fully agree that in the coming period the country must bring in line its constitutional framework with European standards and ensure the functionality of its institutions. Another important precondition for Bosnia and Herzegovina's successful EU integration will be to ensure equality for all citizens regardless of ethnicity. We fully support the effort of Bosnia and Herzegovina to gain the EU candidate status.

The Czech Republic supports Kosovo's effort to move ahead with the EU integration process. However, we regret that these efforts are hindered by the country's internal political situation and complicated relations with Serbia. To achieve progress in the dialogue leading to normalisation of relations with Serbia, Kosovo should reconsider its decision to impose tariffs on imports from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, inter alia to achieve progress in the dialogue leading to normalisation of relations with Serbia. The Czech Republic welcomes the fact that Kosovo has fulfilled all formal benchmarks for visa liberalisation with the EU.

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