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Summary: July 18, 2005: Council of the European Union, General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting (Brussels)
Conclusions on Western Balkans
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
The Council welcomed the generally peaceful conduct of the elections in Albania on 3 July, which are an important test of the country's readiness for further EU integration. It noted, however, that there were a number of shortcomings, which will need to be addressed so that they do not occur in the future. The Council expressed its appreciation to the OSCE/ODIHR and looked forward to its final report. The Council called on all political leaders and parties to show responsibility and to respect fully the terms of the Albanian constitution, electoral law and Code of Conduct throughout the election process and the formation of a new government. Once it is formed, the new Government, together with the Parliament, must begin work without delay and with genuine commitment on a clear and strong reform agenda for European integration, including in particular in fields related to the rule of law.
The Council recalled that the Commission would issue this autumn its annual Regular Report on the Stabilisation and Association process in Albania. This will provide an opportunity to assess whether negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement could be concluded in the light of overall progress with democratic standards and key reforms. The Council reaffirmed its continuing commitment to support Albania in achieving its ambitions of moving closer to the EU, and stressed that the key to further progress lies in the hands of the Albanian authorities.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the Council expressed its renewed condemnation of the crimes committed and extended its compassion for the victims and their families. The memories of Srebrenica will not be laid to rest until those who ordered and committed the crimes have been brought to justice.
The Council welcomed the attendance by the leaders of Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro, alongside the leaders of all three constituent communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the commemorative event held on 11 July at Srebrenica.
In the light of the anniversary, the Council, recalling the UNSC Resolutions 1503 and 1534, underlined that full and unrestricted co-operation with the ICTY remains an essential requirement for continuing progress towards the EU. The transfer to The Hague of all the remaining fugitive indictees who continue to elude international justice, notably in this context Karadzic and Mladic, would be a fitting tribute to the victims of Srebrenica, as well as a major stride towards permanent peace, stability and reconciliation."