‘No alternative to dialogue’ between Belgrade and Priština, Serbia’s deputy PM tells European Parliament committee

There is no alternative to dialogue and pragmatic co-operation between Serbia and Kosovo, Suzana Grubjesic, Serbia’s deputy Prime Minister for European integration, has told the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Addressing the committee on January 22 2013, she asked MEPs to back Serbia’s pledge to meet conditions for setting a starting date for EU accession talks. Serbia was granted EU candidate status on March 1 2012.

Serbia needs to get a starting date for EU accession talks, possibly by the end of the Irish Presidency, to “maintain the momentum of reforms in Serbia and make the process of EU integration irreversible,” Grubjesic said. She emphasised that her government, formed after May 2012 elections, was committed to reform as recommended by the European Commission’s progress report.

The European Parliament’s draft resolution on Serbia’s 2012 progress report, drafted by Jelko Kacin (ALDE, SI), also calls for a starting date to be set as soon as possible, provided Serbia keeps its reform promises.

While the MEPs recognized the positive results of Serbia’s reforms and the new government’s constructive stance on the high-level dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, they underlined the need to step up the fight against corruption, immediately bring Article 359 of the Penal Code (on “abuse of position”) into line with EU law and better protect LGBT persons and other vulnerable groups.

Jelko Kacin (ALDE, SI), the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Serbia, said the government’s approach to fighting corruption was “a bizarre story”.

“Feeding the investigation results to the media is not acceptable, it is a shame,” he said.

Ana Gomes (S&D, PT) said the media were central to the fight against corruption and organised crime and asked what Serbia intends to do “to address the lack of transparency of media ownership”.

“Kosovo will never be part of Serbia again,” said Bernd Posselt (EPP, DE), emphasising that the place of both Kosovo and Serbia was in the EU. He asked Grubjesic to pay particular attention to special border crossings for local populations.

Asked by Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT) if she could confirm that the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia would meet as part of the high-level political dialogue, Grubjesic said it was intended to hold such a meeting, but that no date had yet been set.

The European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee will vote on the draft resolutions on Serbia and Kosovo at a special meeting on February 7 2013. The plenary vote is expected in March.

(Photo: Sébastien Bertrand)




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