16-17 October 2006
2756th EXTERNAL RELATIONS Council meeting Luxembourg
Council Conclusions on Western Balkans
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Council welcomed the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the International Election Observation Mission's preliminary assessment that the elections were conducted largely in accordance with international standards. The Council congratulated BiH for the well administered general elections that were entirely managed by its own institutions for the first time after 1995.
- The Council looked forward to the timely formation of new Governments. The Council stressed the need for the newly elected political institutions quickly to restore momentum on reform and agree and implement all the reforms necessary for the conclusion of the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement as set out in the Council conclusions of 12 December 2005. The Council expressed particular concern over the lack of progress towards the implementation of the October 2005 agreement on police restructuring, and looked forward to fast removal of this obstacle. The Council reiterated its full support to the European perspective of BiH.
- The Council emphasized the need for progress on constitutional reform to create more functional state structures that are better able to meet European standards. The Council encouraged the newly elected representatives to make this an early priority.
- The Council welcomed the joint report by the SG/HR and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement on a reinforced EU Presence in BiH in the context of the envisaged closure of the Office of the High Representative (OHR). The Council also welcomed the recommendations of the report and subsequently tasked relevant Council bodies to take preparatory work forward in order to ensure continuing timely preparation of the future EU role in BiH after the envisaged closure of OHR. International partners will be consulted as necessary.
- The Council welcomed the holding of the second EU-Serbia Troika meeting on 16 October. The Council expressed its readiness to continue enhanced political dialogue with Serbia in order to support its European course, including the resumption of the negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement as soon as full cooperation with ICTY is achieved.
- The Council urged the parties to engage constructively with the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari to bridge the gaps between their respective positions and to refrain from unilateral or provocative action. Recalling the statement issued at the Contact Group Ministerial Meeting on 20 September, the Council noted that striving for a negotiated settlement should not obscure the fact that neither party can unilaterally delay or block the status process from advancing. In this context, the Council reiterated its full support for SE Ahtisaari and his efforts in conducting the political process to determine Kosovo’s future status. It welcomed his intention to prepare a comprehensive settlement proposal as a basis for moving forward.
- The Council took note of the report by the SRSG presented to the UN Security Council on 13 September. It noted the positive progress made in implementing the Kosovo Standards while recalling the crucial importance of and the need for further effective implementation of the standards. The Council urged Belgrade to encourage Serbs in Kosovo to participate in Kosovo's institutions, in which they can most effectively advocate their own interests.
- The Council also welcomed the important preparatory work underway for a possible ESDP mission in the broader field of the rule of law and for the EU component of the future International Civilian Mission in Kosovo. The Council agreed to extend the EU planning team regarding a possible EU crisis management operation in the field of rule of law and possible other areas in Kosovo (EUPT Kosovo) by three months until 31 March 2007. "