By Matt Williams - 16th January 2008
STRASBOURG – MEPs have urged Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša to make ratification of the Lisbon treaty and the future status of Kosovo Ljubljana’s top EU presidency priorities.
“You are going to be the vanguard for securing the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. We need to make sure that ratification happens so that we can equip ourselves with the necessary machinery to take us successfully into the 2009 elections,” EPP-ED group leader Joseph Daul told Janša, who was in Strasbourg on Wednesday to formally present Ljubljana’s priorities to MEPs.
“The presidency will be a challenge for Slovenia,” said Daul who added that Slovenia’s handling of Kosovo would also be a key priority for Ljubljana.
“We are sure that your presidency will play a role in sorting out the stability of the Kosovo region. Building bridges is something that you yourselves as a country have done in the past,” he said.
However, ALDE group leader Graham Watson told Janša that any offers of stability for the region had to involve cooperation from Serbia.
“There can be no stabilisation for Kosovo…without Serbia’s full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.”
GUE/NGL chairman Francis Wurtz also called for caution, arguing that Kosovan independence would not solve the many problems existing in the region.
“How is it that €2bn in aid has failed to lead to any economic growth, that 17,000 [NATO] soldiers haven’t been able to stop hundreds of Orthodox churches from being damaged…how will a unilateral declaration of independence or bringing Kosovo into the European fold sort these issues out?”
Jens-Peter Bonde, leader of parliament’s Eurosceptic Independence and Democracy group was angry that most member states are not ratifying the treaty by referendum.
“Now it seems that only Ireland can save European democracy. At least the council could publish a consolidated version of the treaty so that we can see what we have signed,” he said.
Socialist group leader Martin Schulz feels that Turkey’s EU aspirations have to be dealt with.
“We need to look at negotiations with Turkey. This is the kind of thing we need to clarify now, whether we are going to carry out further negotiations over Turkish membership,” he said.