The European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC) held its eighth meeting on 13-14 June 2018 in Strasbourg. The Declaration and Recommendations adopted after the two-day meeting clearly affirm Serbia’s 2025 European perspective.
The National Assembly delegation which took part in the eighth meeting of the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee comprised: Dr Vladimir Orlic, Elvira Kovacs, Vesna Markovic, Prof. Dr Ljubisa Stojmirovic, Dragan Sormaz, Vesna Marjanovic, Dr Milorad Mijatovic, Dubravka Filipovski, Dusica Stojkovic, Nedjo Jovanovic and Vladimir Djuric.
The European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee exchanged views with: Emilia Kraleva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Bulgarian Presidency-in-Office of the Council, Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for Western Balkans, Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, on behalf of the European Commission, Eduard Auer, Head of Western Balkans Division, on behalf of the European External Action Service, and Anja Rovic, State Secretary at the Ministry of European Integration, on behalf of the Government of Serbia.
The SAPC meeting was opened by co-chairs Dr Vladimir Orlic and Eduard Kukan, heads of the National Assembly and European Parliament delegations to the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee.
Mr Eduard Kukan said that this year’s Draft Declaration is better than the previous ones as it clearly affirms Serbia’s European perspective. In that context, he praised the adoption of the strategy for the Western Balkans and the Summit in Sofia as vital for Serbia’s continued European integration efforts stressing that the European Parliament believes Serbia’s 2025 European perspective to be achievable and fully supports the ongoing reforms. He said that Serbia is one of the leaders in the region in the domain of European integration and commended the progress of Serbia’s reform process, especially in the domain of economic growth where Serbia is clearly the leader of the region.
Dr Vladimir Orlic said that EU accession is one of Serbia’s foreign policy priorities and by pursuing a wise and balanced policy in the face of challenges the country has shown itself to be a credible partner to the European Union and a factor of peace and stability in the region. Orlic was pleased to hear about the support for Serbia’s 2025 EU accession and the Draft Declaration which clearly delineates the progress achieved. He said that the issue of Kosovo-Metohija is still crucial for the European integration efforts and regretted the fact that Pristina had openly abandoned dialogue and that the failure to establish the Association/Community of Serb-majority Municipalities is accompanied by physical violence initiated by the forcible arrest of the Head of the Office for Kosovo-Metohija Marko Djuric and others present at the internal dialogue session and continued by attacks on civilians. He added that the Serbian side had at no point exhibited any similar behaviour and called on the representatives of the EU institutions and member states to clearly and unequivocally condemn Pristina’s activities and call for abiding by agreements achieved and refraining from any further brutal provocation.
State Secretary at the Ministry of European Integration Anja Rovic addressed the attending on behalf of the Government of Serbia. She thanked the representatives of the European institutions for their interest in pre-accession talks and opening of negotiation chapters which is a positive signal to Serbia’s European integration process. Rovic was pleased that Serbia’s role as regional leader in European integration was recognized at the Sofia Summit. She said that Serbia endorses the EU reform which means a more efficient enlargement policy. She informed the attending about the progress achieved in the domain of rule of law concerning constitutional reform, media strategy, strategy of the Office of the War Crime Prosecutor and adoption of new laws such as the Law on the Anti-Corruption Agency, Law on Personal Data Protection, Law on National Councils of National Minorities and highlighted Serbia’s efforts toward normalizing the relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Speaking of Chapter 31: Foreign, security and defence policy, she said that Serbia was the first country in the region to show readiness to harmonize its national security and defence strategies with the EU global strategy adding that the documents have entered the final stage of revision and European integration and EU accession were defined as state interests in both. She stressed that Serbia would intensify its reforms in the coming period to ensure harmonization with European standards.
The members of the two delegations to the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee went on to exchange views on the state of play of the accession negotiations and EU-Serbia relations, developments under the Negotiating Chapter 23, including judiciary, constitutional reform, fundamental rights and freedom of media, developments in economy, recent developments in relations between Belgrade and Pristina and foreign, security and defense policies and cooperation.
Following the discussion the two delegations adopted the Declaration and Recommendations
of the eight meeting of SAPC, welcoming the opening of 12 negotiation chapters and calling on the Council and the Commission to support the opening of additional technically prepared chapters; praising Serbia’s continued progress toward European integration; supporting Serbia’s 2025 perspective; urging to establish the Association/Community of Serb-majority Municipalities and expressing serious concern at recent tensions and use of force; noting Serbia's continued implementation of reforms which supported further recovery of the economy and generated new employment as well as considerable progress in strengthening financial stability, in particular with regard to the budget deficit and the fact that the public debt was below the level laid down by the Maastricht criteria; welcoming the sustained efforts to improve the situation of persons belonging to vulnerable and minority groups, etc.
The co-chairs, Kukan and Orlic agreed that the eight meeting was characterized by a constructive debate and that the SAPC would work toward furthering cooperation between the National Assembly and the European Parliament and ensuring support for Serbia’s European integration.
The next meeting of the European Union-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee will be held in Belgrade on 29-30 October 2018.