Djordje Milicevic, deputy member of the National Assembly standing delegation to the South East Europe Cooperation Process Parliamentary Assembly (SEECP PA) took part in the online meeting of the SEECP PA Standing Committee, held on 14 June 2021, under the auspices of the Turkish presidency of the SEECP.
The meeting focused on the draft documents for the SEECP PA Plenary Session scheduled for 21-23 June in Antalya, and on the seat of the SEECP PA Permanent Secretariat.
The meeting also touched on the priorities of the Turkish presidency of the SEECP: cooperation in the field of health in the post COVID-19 period, improvement of regional cooperation, migration management, increasing the quality of education and human resources, construction of communication and transport routes.
In the discussion on the third item on the agenda - draft reports with recommendations of the General Committee on Justice, Home Affairs and Security Cooperation, Dj. Milicevic said that the formulation of this act was previously agreed at the meeting of the General Committee on 15 April this year. He said that the National Assembly’s standing delegation is trying to reach consensual agreements on various issues dealt with by this parliamentary organisation, however, the behaviour of one of the participants of the SEECP does not allow us to function normally and systematically violates all agreements reached and knowingly ignores the conditions under which it was admitted into this organisation.
Dj. Milicevic reminded the attending that, in a letter sent to the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Mustafa Şentop and forwarded to all the other participants, the Head of the Serbian National Assembly’s standing delegation Speaker Ivica Dacic pointed out that: "Since the Parliament in Pristina chairs committees which have submitted draft reports and resolutions, we would like to point out that certain parts of the texts deviate completely from status-neutral terminology and use of symbols. We would like to remind the participants of the agreement reached at the Summit of Heads of State and Government, on Brdo near Kranj, on 24 April 2018, when a joint Declaration was adopted, emphasising status neutrality during Pristina’s presidency. The Declaration explicitly states that Pristina will preside over the South East Europe Cooperation Process without prejudice to the views of other participants on its status or the status of the SEECP, organise all meetings, regardless of level, in neutral premises, ensure that all documents, including invitations, will be in a neutral format, and will continue with the current practice according to which there is no emphasis on state symbols during meetings.” Dj. Milicevic also pointed out that the meetings of the General Committee on Social Development, Education, Research and Science and the General Committee on Economy, Energy and Infrastructure, chaired by the Parliament in Pristina, which were to take place on Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 June, did not have the quorum required for work and decision-making. According to the information we have, the Pristina presidency did not provide the required quorum, i.e. there were less than five delegations present, so it can be considered that these meetings were not held and that the draft acts proposed by the Pristina presidency were not adopted because they did not secure the support on one half of the delegations . Dj. Milicevic called on the Turkish presidency, whose duty it is to make sure the rules of operation and the agreements reached so far are respected, to invest additional efforts into ensuring the continuation of this organisation’s normal operation and stopping its work from being rendered meaningless, which all the participants in the SEECP Parliamentary Assembly are exposed to.
Despite all the arguments we presented, Pristina insisted on continuing the discussion on the draft documents of the General Committees in spite of the fact that the draft documents were not adopted, because the meetings of the two General Committees lacked decision-making quorum.
Our delegation strongly opposed, referring to clear procedures of the Rules of Procedure, which was later accepted by the participants of the meetings.
In the discussion on the fourth item on the agenda - seat of the permanent secretariat, Dj. Milicevic expressed the official position that further activities should be focused on reaching a consensual agreement on the seat of the secretariat and the budget, which will complete the process of constituting the SEECP Parliamentary Assembly. "In the previous period, we seemed to be approaching a consensus, but it somehow eluded us each time. Let me remind you that on the eve of the Standing Committee’s previous meeting, held in December 2020, in a letter submitted to the Turkish presidency, the Head of the National Assembly’s standing delegation, National Assembly Speaker I. Dacic said that it is Serbia's position that the decision to establish a permanent secretariat must be made by consensus of all the participants in the SEECP PA and on the basis of the two existing candidacies: Sofia and Istanbul. The principle of consensus is a basic decision-making principle that should remain the way decisions are made, because dialogue and agreement on the most important regional issues that are the essence of this type of parliamentary cooperation”, said Dj. Milicevic. He urged Sofia and Ankara to try again to establish a dialogue and reach an agreement on this important issue in good faith, which will be for the benefit of all of us and our citizens.
Dj. Milicevic went on to propose that the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia to host and chair the General Committee on Economy, Energy and Infrastructure, which was accepted by consensus of all the participants.
Throughout the meeting, Pristina conditioned and obstructed the agreements on which Dj. Milicevic shared a clear position that such behaviour by Pristina is inappropriate and inadmissible and in contradiction with all the agreements reached, which directly violates the work of the SEECP.