Serbia should "harmonize on Russia" - EP resolution draft
Serbia "should continue its reforms and harmonize its foreign policy with the EU's, including the part referring to Russia."Source: Tanjug
This is according to the first draft of a resolution on Serbia prepared by European Parliament rapporteur David Mc Allister.
The European Parliament welcomes Serbia's commitment to EU integration and active implementation of social and economic reforms, says the document, which will be presented to the European Parliament committee on foreign affairs later this month.
The resolution states that a thorough implementation of the adopted reform laws is the key indicator of the success of EU integration, and that further progress in the judiciary reform is needed to open chapters 23 and 24 (related to the rule of law) of the accession talks as soon as possible.
The European Parliament calls on Serbia to harmonize its foreign and security policies with the EU's, including the part that refers to Russia, and regrets that Serbia has not joined the EU's restrictions imposed on Russia, the draft says.
When it comes to the talks between Belgrade and Pristina meant to bring their relations back to normal, McAllister's document states that the process was slow last year because of the elections in Serbia and Kosovo and it adds that the talks between the two sides' top ranking politicians should continue as soon as possible.
The framework for the accession talks requires progress in the relations with Kosovo under Chapter 35, along with progress in other chapters, McAllister said in the draft, stressing that Chapter 35 should be among the first to be opened.
McAllister praised Serbia's efforts to improve regional relations and particularly highlighted the visit by Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama to Belgrade in November.
Serbia was also commended for adopting a strategy against discrimination and successfully holding a gay pride parade in September.
When it comes to the fight against corruption, the EP rapporteur on Serbia lauded the country for starting a number of proceedings to combat high-level corruption, but said it was necessary to make much more effort to fully implement the legal framework, and to set aside sufficient financial resources for use by anti-corruption bodies.
Leakage of investigation information to the media is a source of serious concern as it may constitute a violation of the presumption of innocence and should be investigated in compliance with the law, says the draft document.
The document also expresses concern over threats against journalists and overall worsening of the situation in terms of the freedom of opinion and expression, and calls for increasing media ownership transparency.
The draft resolution contains criticism of Article 234 of Serbia's Criminal Code, related to the abuse of official position, with the caveat that the article still allows for too broad interpretation.
Serbia is called upon to harmonize its energy policy with European rules and to start reconstruction procedures in the state-owned natural gas provider Srbijagas to ensure competitiveness in the energy sector as soon as possible.
McAllister will present the draft document to the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee on January 19, and it will reach a final form after two rounds of discussion and amendment submission to be finally adopted at a plenary session in March.