11 May 2018 Participants of the international parliamentary conference “Idea of EU: Toward Peace and Development”
Friday, 11 May 2018
International Parliamentary Conference “Idea of EU: Toward Peace and Development”
The European Integration Committee, with the support of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, organized a two-day international parliamentary conference, on 11 and 12 May, in Belgrade with the topic “Idea of EU: Toward Peace and Development”.
“An overwhelming majority of MPs have adopted EU integration as their goal and Serbia’s European path as their political credo. We wanted to bring together colleagues who will be able to join forces and build Europe as the basis and framework of peaceful co-existence of all the states, their citizens, regions and cities. EU as an idea of cooperation is an idea that will put all of today’s disagreements in the past where they belong”, said Canak.
The conference was opened by National Assembly Speaker Maja Gojkovic who reminded the attending that the ideas Robert Schuman published almost seven decades ago in the declaration that is the cornerstone of today’s modern Europe, created as a hope, a salvation and the best response to the war-torn and impoverished Europe, are still relevant today.
“We have come together to examine Europe today in the light of the challenges it is faced with and openly discuss its future, examine the issue of enlargement and security, economic policy and other topics of interest not only for us in the Western Balkans, but for the EU itself”, said Gojkovic.
The Parliament Speaker said that the European Union might now be facing its biggest challenges to date – terrorism, illegal migration, the still relevant fallout of the economic crisis, unresolved conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, Brexit and the 2021-2027 budget which has already, in its planning stage, drawn different reactions. The Western Balkan region is not exempt from any of these challenges. That is why it is very important that the relations and cooperation in the region be built on mutual respect, trust and understanding for the sake of stability and a lasting peace in it. Gojkovic said Serbia is making measured and responsible moves to defuse tensions and draw attention to an agenda for the future.
“EU accession has been, is and will be our chief foreign policy goal. Our country has shown dedication to the reform processes, we are harmonizing our laws with the EU legislation and in that by no means easy process the National Assembly plays a very important role. Our commitment to European integration and efforts to speed it up are in the interest of our citizens, peace and stability in the country and the region at large. The European Union has developed by overcoming crises and finding new trends to follow, while the enlargement process ran parallel to it, so a strong or an enlarged European Union is not really a matter of choice because a bulk of the EU’s power lies in its enlargement”, said the National Assembly Speaker.
On day one of the conference the participants discussed European security and the relations between NATO, EU and the Russian Federation.
Opening the discussion, the Head of the National Assembly’s standing delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Dragan Sormaz listed the many national and global security threats in the world today. He reminded the attending that Serbia contributes to global security by participating in EU and UN peace missions which is an important segment of the country’s foreign policy. He said it is encouraging that the EU global strategy stresses that EU stability hinges on the stability of the Western Balkans.
Speaking of the their countries and organizations’ contribution to security and inter-relations, the attending were addressed by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, NATO PA President Paolo Alli, Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Mektic, Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia Andrea Orizio, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federal Council International Affairs Committee Sergei Kislyak and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives Dirk Van der Maelen.
The participants of the panel discussion agreed that the EU cannot be complete without the integration of the Western Balkans and that the stability of the region is vital for the stability of Europe as a whole. In that process, Serbia plays the key role and can be the main source of stability and security.
The second panel, dedicated to the EU as a peace project, was opened by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic who said that the history of Europe has been one of achievement and social development, as well as a history of wars and battles and since its inception the EU has made peace its top priority. The Nobel Committee recognized its efforts and in 2012 awarded it the peace prize in recognition of its successful fight for peace, democracy and human rights, said Obradovic.
The Chair of the Romanian Senate’s European Affairs Committee Gabriela Cretu, co-chair of the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee Vladimir Orlic, Chairman of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Meho Omerovic and Coordinator of the National Convention on the EU Natasa Dragojlovic also spoke at the panel.
The panellists agreed that the EU must be the defender and maker of peace. Cooperation in the regions and with neighbours is equally important for the security and development of the EU. The European federalists wish to one day create the united states of Europe and advance its global standing. The EU candidate states play an important role in the process because the Europe of the 21st century is the best for today’s world. The panellists opined that the EU has been a successful and brave peace project of the 20th century in the wake of two wars waged on its territory. They also spoke about the challenges the EU is faced with i.e. terrorism, social inequality among the member states, growing populism and nationalism, impact of the economic crisis - all open issues in need of a solution.
MEP Ivan Jakovcic, Chairman of the German Bundestag’s Committee on the Affairs of the European Union Gunther Krichbaum, Chairperson of the Spanish Parliament’s Joint Committee for the European Union Maria Soraya Rodriguez Ramos, Chairman of the European Integration and Regional Cooperation Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska Branislav Borenovic and Head of Serbia’s Negotiating Team with the EU Tanja Miscevic spoke at the final panel of day one dedicated to decentralisation in the EU and the role of regions in it.
The panellists opined that this type of cooperation between parliamentarians is the guarantor of cooperation between national parliaments, especially European affairs committees, and that Europe exists because it is home to a rich variety of people and regions. Each region can deal with its own problems, but the advantage the EU provides is that if they come up against any challenges these can be resolved at the national or European level. Progress in chapters 23 and 24 was identified as the challenge troubling the Western Balkan region, and the discussion also touched on the need to decentralize the states in Europe and on cooperation in the region with the aim of advancing EU enlargement to include the Western Balkans.
Day two of the conference, 12 May, hosted two panels dedicated to EU enlargement and the relationship between the EU fiscal and monetary policy.
European Integration Committee Deputy Chairperson Elvira Kovacs and the Chairperson of the Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending Prof. Dr Aleksandra Tomic moderated the panels.
The attending were addressed by MEP Igor Soltes, Vice-Chairperson of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Committee on European Affairs Stefan Musiou, member of the Macedonian Parliament’s Committee on European Affairs Slavica Sumanska Miteva, Secretary-General of the European Movement in Serbia Suzana Grubjesic, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordana Comic, Assistant Minister of Finance Verica Ignjatovic, Branko Greganovic of NLB Bank, Miodrag Kostic of MK Group and President of the Executive Board of Erste Bank Serbia Slavko Caric.
The debate focused on the importance of the EU enlargement policy which was characterized as a two-way process that each side must contribute to, and on EU investment into Serbia and availability and use of IPARD funds.
10.00 - public hearing on the Presentation of the Draft Trade Strategy of the Republic of Serbia by 2025 (National Assembly Building, 14 Kralja Milana Street, Grand Hall)
12.00 - the National Assembly Speaker meets with the Egyptian Ambassador to Serbia (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, diplomatic salon of Prince Pavle Karadjordjevic)
13.00 - continuation of the sitting of the Committee on the Economy, Regional Development, Trade, Tourism and Energy (National Assembly Building, 14 Kralja Milana Street, Grand Hall)
14.00 - sitting of the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 2)