Gazivode hydro resource "important for EU chapters"
The settlement of legal relations in connection to the hydro-power plant Gazvode "is an important moment for of the start of EU membership negotiations."Source: Tanjug
This is what MP from the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians and Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on EU Integration Laszlo Varga told the Novi Sad-based Hungarian language daily Magyar Szo.
According to him, "it is impossible to, for now, determine the exact date when first chapters will be opened."
Asked why negotiations on the first three chapters have not been launched "a year a half later," Varga said there was "consensus among EU member states that those can only be negotiated as part of a package" - and that Serbia is "yet to arrive at the level that would satisfy the expectations of all members of the union."
"In the case of chapters 23 and 24, it is about the union still not having accepted action plans related to these chapters. These action plans elaborate what Serbia should do in the context of reforms aimed at joining. In the case of chapter 35 it is about implementation of the Brussels agreement signed in April 2013 not yet being completed," said Varga has been quoted as saying.
He reiterated that it was "currently very difficult to say when exactly negotiations on these three chapters can be opened," adding that "in principle, it could happen as early as within a few weeks."
"The Serbian prime minister has also talkedw about it lately, expressing hope that chapters will be opened already in June. This is a theoretical possibility. As regards the practice and the signs that I personally receive from member states of the EU, it seems much more realistic to expect the opening of these chapters in the second part of this year," said Varga.
He specified that the European Commission will in October present its report on candidates, and added that he believes the decision on opening negotiations on the chapters will be made at the next EU summit, which usually takes place in December.
Asked "what Serbia needs to do to make sure these chapters are certainly opened this year," Varga said that only "minimal tasks" remain when it comes to chapters 23 and 24.
When it comes to chapter 35, Varga believes it is "a really difficult issue" - and that it concerns the Lake Gazivode hydropower plant and associated infrastructure, which he said accounted for "a significant part of Kosovo's power supply system."
"It now appears that this is a big question where Belgrade has to reach agreement with Pristina. It is about a facility most of which is located in central Serbia, and a smaller part in the territory of Kosovo, but from this system depends a significant portion of supply in Kosovo. If agreement is reached on this matter, is it likely that it will be found that Serbia is ready to open negotiations on chapter 35," said the MP.
The daily added in its report that Varga "has no knowledge regarding the expectations of the EU in solving this issue - but that it is estimated the EU is likely to support a solution that is acceptable to both sides, adding that Belgrade and Pristina are currently quite far apart."
"Kosovo demands the whole facility for themselves and sees it as property of Kosovo. Serbia, of course, has a completely different approach to this issue given where the funds to build this hydro power plant came from decades ago - that is, considering that much of the facility lies in the territory of central Serbia," Varga said.
He believes Belgrade also finds "the security of electricity supply in northern Kosovo, that is, of the Serb population in this area," to be important.
Because of this, "Serbia supports some kind of a mixed model according to which the community of Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo would be the maintainer of this power plant and associated facilities," Varga concluded.