23 April 2018 Participants of the fifth plenary session of the National Convention on the European Union
Monday, 23 April 2018
Fifth Plenary Session of the National Convention on the European Union
In cooperation with the National Assembly and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the National Convention on European Union Speaker held its fifth plenary session today.
He said that the Convention as a civil society platform gathering more than 700 organizations actively contributes to Serbia’s EU association process.
“I am glad that full four years after the establishment of the National Convention, the MPs and members of the relevant committees are aware of its importance and support its operation”, said Marinkovic.
He added that the National Assembly and the Government keep reaffirming Serbia’s commitment to build a democratic society based on the rule of law and human and minority rights, principles of market economy and effective state institutions in line with EU accession criteria and that all the state bodies are in agreement that the EU accession process is a process of internal social reform.
“In view of the fact that EU accession is Serbia’s strategic commitment and chief foreign policy priority, the work of the National Convention which has enabled the inclusion of the citizens and civic organizations into the negotiation process is extremely important. Cooperation with the National Convention i.e. consulting mechanism is a great achievement”, said the National Assembly Deputy Speaker.
He opined that today’s session is a great opportunity for everybody to discuss the key aspects of Serbia’s EU integration as well as the results achieved, the problems, obstacles, challenges and future steps in the accession process.
Coordinator of the National Convention on the European Union Natasa Dragojlovic and Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Norbert Beckmann-Dierkes also spoke at the session, as did the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi who briefly presented the European Commission 2017 – 2018 Progress Report on Serbia which notes progress in certain areas, primarily the economy, but notes that the political progress is uneven. The Report analyses what needs to be done to improve the quality of the reforms in view of the strong political impulse in Europe today which should be utilized. Fabrizi opined that the Report is balanced and objective and notes that Serbia is dedicated to EU accession. The part on political criteria contains guidelines and recommendations how to improve the rule of law, fight against corruption and crime, and freedom of speech. Speaking of economic criteria the Report notes significant results especially as regards the budget cycle, and recommendations for growth in 2018.
“We want to encourage you to stay focused and keep EU accession in the state bodies’ focus”, said Fabrizi.
Addressing the representatives of civil society, state bodies and international organizations, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that neither this nor any other Government can conduct comprehensive reforms on its own to make Serbia part of the world of EU values and living standards and needs the cooperation of the civil society and business organizations to push the country forward.
“The Conventions is the pillar of civic dialogue on Serbia’s European integration and a vital partner to the Serbian Government because our path to Europe has to be essence not just form”, said the Prime Minister.
She opined that the path to Europe should not be a shortcut, through it is difficult and wrought with challenges, because through it we must correct the generational errors in our society. Speaking of 2025 as the prospective year of EU enlargement, Brnabic said that 2025 is important as a set time and a chance, but on the other hand it is not that important if we think about the quality of the reforms.
Brnabic spoke briefly of the key reforms in Serbia – economic reforms, where Serbia has done the most and has achieved the best results, then reforms of the state governance and the rule of law where Serbia faces the most challenges and where the Government needs the Convention’s support.
She opined that we should leave the Report’s assessments behind and focus on the recommendations and what we need to do to make the next Report even better and thanked the Convention for its support and constructive criticism.
European Integration Committee Chairman Nenad Canak, Head of Serbia’s Negotiating Team Tanja Miscevic, State Secretary at the Ministry for European Integration Anja Rodic, Director of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence Sonja Licht and Marko Malovic of the Institute of Economic Sciences spoke about the European Commission 2017 – 2018 Progress Report on Serbia.
The participants went on to discuss Chapter 23 and amendments to the Constitution with Minister of Justice Nela Kuburovic, Chairman of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Meho Omerovic, German Ambassador to Serbia Axel Dittmann, Head of Political Section at the EU Delegation to Serbia Noora Hayrinen, Dragan Boljevic of the Judges’ Association of Serbia and Goran Ilic of the State Prosecutorial Council.
The participants of the fifth plenary session of the National Convention on the European Union spoke about the freedom of speech and the media with the State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture and the Media Aleksandar Gajovic, the President’s Media Adviser Suzana Vasiljevic, Head of Information, Communication and Media at the EU Delegation to Serbia Paul-Henri Presset, Head of Political Section at the EU Delegation to Serbia Noora Hayrinen, Tanja Maksic of BIRN, Tamara Filipovic of NUNS, Zlatko Minic of TS, Ivan Grujic of Education Centre Leskovac and Maja Divac of PG Mreze.
13.00 - press conference of MPs Sasa Radulovic, Branka Stamenkovic and Vojin Biljic (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, Central Hall)