Austrian parliament ratifies Serbia's SAA
19. November 2010. | 07:40
The Austrian parliament voted unanimously Thursday to ratify Serbia's Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), commending the Serbian authorities on the reforms carried out on the road to the EU.
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said that the ratification is an important act and expressed satisfaction that the Netherlands backed down and unfroze the process. He reminded that the next step has already been taken i.e. forwarding Serbia's application for candidate status to the European Commission.
This is an important step for Serbia, a huge step toward the EU. Our support to Serbia must continue, Spindelegger stressed.
Spindelegger reminded that an international conference on the Western Balkans has been set for December in Berlin, where the region's European perspective should be further encouraged.
Nine Austrian MPs had only words of praise for Serbia and pointed out that the country belongs in the EU.
This is an important document with historic significance, because it gives a boost to the pro-European parties in Serbia.
With the ratification, Austria supports the progress in reform. A former crisis area is well on the way to stabilization, stressed MP and former foreign minister Ursula Plassnik.
She said that Serbia needs to complete the cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and that it is therefore good that it decided to involve Interpol in the search for the remaining fugitives.
Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) leader Heinz-Christian Strache said that the SAA should have been ratified a long time ago.
Serbia is and has always been a part of Europe, one that is unfortunately often left hanging. This was evident in the case of Kosovo, which is a part of Serbia from a historical and international perspective, and whose recognition of independence
constitutes a violation of international law. No one is concerned with the Serbs in Kosovo, unlike the Albanians. The rights that were bestowed on the Kosovo Albanians should also be given to the Serbs in northern Kosovo and the Serbs in Republika Srpska, Strache said.
Former Chancellor of Austria and Austrian People's Party (OVP) MP Wolfgang Schussel congratulated the Serbian government on what has been accomplished in the country in recent years, assessing that only European integration can guarantee stability in the region.
Austria is the tenth EU member to ratify the SAA, which needs to be ratified by all 27 EU countries before coming into effect.