“All the parties in the Czech Republic support Serbia’s European integration and that support is substantive”, said the Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Ondrej Benesik, heading the Committee delegation visiting the National Assembly.
In his meeting with the National Assembly’s European Integration Committee Benesik praised the Serbian citizens’ level of support for European integration and ongoing social reform, stressing that, on the other hand, the citizens need to see some real EU prospects. Otherwise, the EU is taking a substantive risk because statements alone that the region is important for it are not enough. The delegation of the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic offered the Serbian colleagues its experiences of reform and transition, since all the countries shared the same experiences and history at some point.
European Integration Committee member Dusica Stojkovic said that EU accession is Serbia’s strategic goal and cooperation with EU member states is very important for the country. The Czech Republic’s experiences within the Visegrad Group are very important for Serbia, she said stressing that the political relations between the two countries are traditionally friendly. Economic cooperation is advancing, as is trade and Czech investments into Serbia, and it is in both countries’ interest to cooperate on European integration, Stojkovic said. She opined that parliamentary relations should be advanced, especially parliamentary diplomacy, adding that a continuation of enlargement is important both for the candidate states and the EU itself.
“The EU has its own challenges, but the member states’ reluctance to give North Macedonia and Albania a green light to start the accession talks and the fact that during Romania’s presidency of the EU Council Serbia opened only one negotiation chapter, do not send a good message to the people. Their displeasure is realistic because Serbia is actively contributing to the resolution of many European issues, as in the case of the migrant crisis”, Stojkovic said.
Serbia will continue to work on the reform processes, she said, however unlike other states it has Chapter 35 to consider and with it the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. She reminded the Czech colleagues that Serbia has fulfilled all of its obligations under the Brussels Agreement, while Pristina fulfilled none, plus it went on to impose a 100% customs tariff on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina which mainly hurts the people. She asked the Czech colleagues to consider the issues concerning the continuation of the dialogue very carefully and advocate the revocation of the customs taxes so that the dialogue could be continued.
The Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Ondrej Benesik said that, though the Czech Republic recognized Kosovo 10 years ago, a great many politicians in the country today believe that it was an unfortunate move. Today, the situation to revoke the recognition is not advantageous, but that does not mean that the Czech Republic is not aware of the problems that Serbia is faced with and the country can count on its parliament’s support, Benesik said.
At the meeting attended by European Integration Committee members and deputy members Gordana Comic, Dragan Sormaz, Vladimir Djuric, Vera Paunovic, Zvonimir Djokic and Haji Milorad Stosic the MPs exchanged views on the experiences of the Czech Republic in the Visegrad Group and the current situation in the EU, the support the Czech Republic can, within the Visegrad Group, offer to the defining of the methodology of future EU enlargement, advancement of economic cooperation and trade and the Western Balkans’ justified displeasure with the pace of EU accession talks and the EU’s shaken credibility as regards the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.