The heads of the parliamentary groups met today, at the National Assembly House, with the newly appointed Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia Emanuele Giaufret.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Vladimir Orlic spoke the beginning of the meeting, as the representative of the absolute majority Parliamentary Group "Aleksandar Vucic – For Our Children”.
"We have a well-founded enthusiasm and positive expectations from the cooperation with you. Full membership in the EU is strategic goal number one, but speaking of goals with a somewhat closer deadline, this year, all of Serbia expects a noticeable progress on that path and that progress will be manifested through the opening of two clusters this year. That is more than realistic and, on our part, it has been properly prepared for a long time," said he speaking talking about Serbia's European integration.
Dr Orlic said that the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia approaches the reforms with the greatest seriousness, as evident in the changes to the Constitution in the field of justice, adoption of the MPs’ Code of Conduct and regular consideration of reports submitted by independent bodies by the plenum.
Answering the questions of the head of the EU delegation concerning the course of the inter-party dialogue conducted on two tracks, Orlic said that the dialogue without foreign mediation is progressing well and that a final agreement is imminent. As for the second track, run with the mediation of representatives of the European Parliament which the parties of the former regime insist on, there are no critical proposals, but we get confirmation that those who threaten violence and street protests and blackmail the European Parliament are still satisfied with the election conditions in Serbia. "Their decision to participate in the local elections, to be held next month, is proof of that. They have officially announced their decision today," he stressed.
The Head of the Socialist Party of Serbia Parliamentary Group Djordje Milicevic expressed hope that future cooperation would be fruitful and successful, reiterating that Serbia’s chief strategic and foreign policy goal is EU membership. "A successful path to the EU requires a partnership that we expect from you as a representative of the European Union," Milicevic concluded.
One of the indicators of the determination to become part of the European Community was the plenary session convened by National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic, where the European Commission’s Report on Serbia's progress on the path to European integration was presented and discussed for the first time.
Elvira Kovacs, National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Deputy Head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians Parliamentary Group and Chairperson of the European Integration Committee, highlighted the excellent cooperation with former EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, saying that the Committee she chairs would be the one to cooperate with newly-elected Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret most. She said that before, the European Commission’s reports on Serbia's progress on the path to European integration were discussed at the sittings of the European Integration Committee, but now this has been raised to a higher level, seeing how the last EC report was for the first time considered at a plenary session of the National Assembly.
She said that the parliamentary group she belongs to has nine MPs, adding that the latest amendment to the Law on Election of MPs and to the Law on Local Elections has set a solid basis for national minority parties which now are even better represented in the National Assembly.
Jovan Krkobabic, Deputy Head PUPS -"Three P’s" Parliamentary Group, stressed that the National Assembly is the right place for talks on Serbia’s European integration.
"The fight for European values is what is most important for us at the moment. Those values have to be supported by real things and I think that our cooperation is a good start in that process," said Krkobabic.
The Head of the United Serbia Parliamentary Group Dragan Markovic said it was noticeable that in the process of negotiations, new demands are constantly being put before Serbia, as well as that lies are being spread by the opposition, by sending letters to various European institutions, claiming that there is no democracy in Serbia, which directly erodes our state system.
"We expect you to get involved and say what is true and what is a lie," Markovic said.
The Head of the Social Democratic Party of Serbia Parliamentary Group Branimir Jovanovic said the party which he has belonged to since its founding is committed to Serbia's path toward the European Union.
"It is important for us to accept the good practice existing in the European Union, not only to become its member pro forma, but to improve some things in our society for our own sakes. However, it is obvious that this path takes a long time and I hope that we will all work together to make sure there is no drop in enthusiasm and that we will achieve concrete results in the coming period," concluded Jovanovic.
Deputy Head of the UNITED VALLEY - SDA SANDZAK Parliamentary Group Enis Imamovic wished the Ambassador a successful term of office, expressing hope that he would achieve success and significant results in the upcoming joint work.
"In that sense, we expect from the European Union and you, as its representative in Serbia, more intensive monitoring of our internal reform processes, primarily in the field of human and minority rights," stressed Imamovic.
The Head of the Justice and Reconciliation Party SPP - United Peasant Party USS Parliamentary Group Samir Tandir also emphasised the importance of improving the rights of minority communities, which, he claims, has visibly improved since 2012.
"It is a very important segment of the life of all citizens, especially members of minority communities, so I am looking forward to future cooperation, talks and concrete moves that will follow," Tandir said.
Emanuele Giaufret expressed gratitude and satisfaction to the heads of parliamentary groups for the opportunity to present himself as the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia in the National Assembly House as a body of a democratic society. He pointed out that the National Assembly is a very important partner to the European Union and that in the next few days it would meet with other politicians, who are not part of the parliament but are participants in the inter-party dialogue. He expressed satisfaction that the European Commission’s Report was considered by the plenum, because its purpose was to help Serbia along its European path. He added that, in today's address on the plans for the next period, the European Commission spoke about the Western Balkans and plans to visit Serbia, as well as the aspiration to expand the European Union to the countries of the Western Balkans. He stressed that the European Commission’s planned visit to Serbia is the opportunity the country should use to its advantage and that any success Serbia achieves, is also a success for his delegation.
In his address, the Ambassador also mentioned the arrival of European parliamentarians for the inter-party dialogue to be held on Friday, 17 September, saying that these meetings will be closely monitored and analysed from Brussels. He thanked the National Assembly for its constructive participation in the dialogue, adding that the proposals reached in this process so far could represent a political agreement between all the parties to the inter-party dialogue. "It is important to show flexibility and readiness for a political agreement that can be translated into concrete and tangible measures," said the newly appointed Ambassador, emphasising the importance of the work of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR) and their reports.
Speaking about the constitutional changes, Giaufret said that he was eagerly awaiting the next steps, i.e. the opinion of the Venice Commission of the extensive work done by the National Assembly and the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues so far. About the National Assembly and its work, the Ambassador repeated that it represents the foundation of any democratic society, praising the Assembly and its cooperation with the Government, non-governmental organisations and other institutions. He also mentioned the MPs’ Code of Conduct as an interesting topic, as well as GRECO’s proposals concerning this issue.
At the end of his presentation, the Ambassador concluded that the three most important topics in terms of Serbia's European integration at the moment are inter-party dialogue, constitutional changes and joint work on reforms, and that the role of his delegation is to help these processes as much as possible.