21 December 2015 The members of the European Integration Committee and EP Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister

21 December 2015 The members of the European Integration Committee and EP Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister

Monday, 21 December 2015

European Integration Committee Members Meet with EP Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister

The members of the European Integration Committee met with EP Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister.

European Integration Committee Chairman Aleksandar Senic greeted the EP Rapporteur for Serbia, saying how glad he was to be able to welcome him after the second intergovernmental conference in Brussels, on 14 December, when the first negotiation chapters of the EU-Serbia accession talks were opened. Senic thanked McAllister for the very positive Draft Resolution on Serbia’s 2015 Progress Report, as well as the European Parliament for its support of Serbia’s efforts on the path to the EU. The National Assembly and the European Integration Committee are fully prepared to begin negotiations according to the chapters. The National Assembly resolution and the European Integration Committee decision included civil society organisations into the work of the Committee. Senic said that the European Integration Committee also invests considerable efforts into regional cooperation and, in 2015, its members have had several bilateral meetings with their in counterparts from the region, which is a practice the Committee plans to continue in 2016. Areas that need additional consideration are media freedom, the National Assembly’s oversight role and the financing of political activities, opined Senic. He stressed that his political organisation is dissatisfied with the situation in the media. He said that he feels that the situation in the media is much worse than in previous years. He added that he spoke highly of this year’s progress report on Serbia to the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Michael Davenport because it focused more on the situation in the media and the freedom of expression than in previous years.

David McAllister congratulated on the opening of chapters 32 and 35, which is a success both for the Government and the National Assembly. He stressed that it is important that Serbia continues to follow this path in 2016, adding that the European Parliament would support the opening of the rest of the negotiating chapters. Speaking of the Draft Resolution on Serbia’s 2015 Progress Report he said that he expected it to be passed in the same general positive tone at the plenary session of the European Parliament in February. Speaking of the amendments to the Draft Resolution, McAllister said that it is his job to work on as many compromises as possible and that said compromises would be achievable. He emphasised the importance of the economic reform, as well as the reform in other spheres important for the improvement of the citizens’ lives. McAllister commended Serbia’s response to the migrant crisis and its conduct in the talks with Pristina, opining that that dialogue contributed to the opening of Chapter 35.

Natasa Vuckovic expressed pleasure at the opening of the two chapters of the negotiating process, opining that it is the result of the democratic processes conducted in the last 15 years. She said that democratic reform is just as important as economic reform and added that the National Assembly’s work deserves closer attention, especially the part concerning the passing of laws by urgent procedure.

Dr Ivan Bauer asked for McAllister’s opinion on the nature of the amendments submitted to the Draft Resolution and estimates whether negotiating chapters 23 and 24 would be opened by March 2016.

Dr Vladimir Orlic stressed that Serbia would continue to work on meeting its obligations concerning Euro-integration. He stressed that the role of civil society is becoming more important in the parliament, adding that civil society organisations have taken part in the preparation of many of the documents soon to be discussed at the plenum. As the Chairman of the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, he briefed McAllister on the process of passing laws by urgent procedure, stating that the debate on such laws does not differ from regular procedure, the difference lies in the time that elapses between a bill’s arrival at the National assembly and its inclusion in the agenda for a plenary sitting. He opined that the Serbian media are doing their job freely, pointing out that the front pages of many a newspaper are more than critical of the Government.

Dragan Sormaz said that the media in Serbia are free, stressing that the European institutions had commended both the media strategy and the Law on the Media. It is important that Serbia continue its harmonisation with the EU in all areas, and that chapters 23 and 24 be opened as soon as possible. As the Head of the National Assembly’s delegation to the NATO PA he said that the relations between Serbia and NATO are at an all-time high, which the media do not report on enough. He also hopes Serbia would harmonise its foreign and security policy with the EU.

Committee member Elvira Kovacs emphasised the importance of the National Assembly having a plan of activity, and the adoption of laws by regular procedure.

Gordana Comic opined that the National Assembly is the responsibility of both the ruling majority and the opposition and highlighted the importance of its oversight role.

Vesna Markovic stressed that when analysing the situation in the Serbian media, one should cover the whole period from 2000 to date. Serbia and the countries in the region consider the Berlin Process and the summit in Vienna very important for the resolution of outstanding bilateral issues in the Western Balkans. She commended the fact that the European Parliament’s Draft Resolution on Kosovo insists on honouring the agreement on the establishment of the Community of Serb municipalities.

The meeting was attended by Committee members Dr Ninoslav Giric, Dusica Stojkovic, Dr Aleksandra Tomic, Vesna Markovic, Gordana Comic, Elvira Kovacs, Dragan Sormaz and Natasa Vuckovic, as well as the Chairman of the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee Dr Vladimir Orlic.

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