The chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the Foreign Affairs Committee, European Integration Committee and the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC) met today at the National Assembly House with a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs headed by Committee Chair David McAllister.
Dr Vladimir Orlic, Chair of the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, said that the majority of Serbian citizens are in favour of the European integration process, but they expect the EU to be ready for enlargement when Serbia has met all the membership criteria. The Serbian public expects a clear stance from the EU on the matter. They are also very concerned by the 100% customs tax imposed on goods from central Serbia on the territory of Kosovo-Metohija which the Albanian side does not want to revoke, and by the obvious lack of any mechanism the European Union could employ to persuade Pristina to change its actions. Pristina’s many threats and provocations, such as the establishment of the so-called “army”, public promotion of “Greater Albania”, threats of Mitrovica’s “integration” and seizure of Trepca, with daily blockages of humanitarian aid, physical threats to Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija and an absolute disregard of all the obligations assumed through the dialogue, put the lives of Serbs and Albanians in jeopardy and threaten to destabilize the entire region. While Belgrade is taking a rational, serious and responsible approach, Pristina’s unacceptable behaviour has jeopardized the dialogue and threatens to do more damage.
Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Nenad Canak, Chairman of the European Integration Committee, stressed that it is Serbia’s strategic goal to become a member of the EU. They asked the Union to take a more active and concrete part in re-launching dialogue and asked for clearer support of the country’s Euro-integration process. European Integration Committee Deputy Chairperson Elvira Kovacs said that Serbia had submitted a number of fully prepared negotiation positions and rightfully expects the opening of new chapters.
McAllister voiced an unequivocal support for Serbia’s European integration process and conveyed the message that Serbia will become a full EU member the moment it meets all the technical requirements and is itself ready to take that step. He stressed that democracy and the rule of law remain the Union’s chief values, and, learning for its mistakes, the EU has taken a firm stance that all the criteria must be met before EU accession. That clearly means that today’s candidate countries have more difficult tasks ahead of them than the past ones, but the enlargement will depend on individual results, without any danger that the candidates slow one another down.
Finally, McAllister added that the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs had chosen to visit the Western Balkans as its last activity on the eve of the parliamentary election, to reaffirm the region’s importance for the EU. The next progress report on Serbia is expected after the European Parliament election.