EP to debate draft resolution on Serbia - what's in it?
The European Parliament (EP) is asking the EU to open new, technically ready chapters in membership negotiations with Serbia, Beta reported on Monday.Source: Beta
A draft resolution that will be debated in the EP on Tuesday says that "Serbia’s progress under rule of law chapters 23 and 24 and in the process of normalization of relations with Kosovo under chapter 35 remains essential for the overall pace of the negotiating process."
It also states that the country has taken "important steps towards the normalization of relations with Kosovo."
The draft underlines the overall economic and social progress of Serbia, and, when it comes to the Belgrade-Pristina talks, "calls on both parties to move forward with the full implementation, in good faith and in a timely manner, of all the agreements already reached and to determinedly continue the normalization process, including the question of the Community of Serb Municipalities."
The document "encourages Serbia and Kosovo to identify new areas of discussion for the dialogue, with the aim of improving the lives of people and comprehensively normalizing relations; reiterates its call on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to carry out an evaluation of the performance of the sides in fulfilling their obligations."
According to the draft resolution, prepared by EP rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister, Serbian authorities "made some progress in the area relating to the judiciary, in particular by taking steps to harmonize jurisprudence and further promoting a merit-based recruitment system, judicial independence is not assured in practice, and this prevents judges and prosecutors from implementing the adopted legislation."
For that reason, Belgrade is called on "to bring the constitutional and legislative framework into line with European standards in order to reduce political influence in the recruitment and appointment of judges and prosecutors."
The EP is "concerned by the lack of progress in the fight against corruption and urges Serbia to show clear political will and commitment in tackling this issue," but welcomes Serbia’s "active role in international and regional police and judicial cooperation, the progress made in the fight against organized crime and the adoption of Serbia’s first national serious and organized crime threat assessment (SOCTA)."
The draft resolution welcomes Serbia’s participation in EU's military-police international missions, but "reiterates its call on Serbia, in line with the requirements of its candidate status, to progressively align its foreign and security policy with that of the EU, including its policy on Russia."
The EP also "considers the conduct of joint Serbia-Russia military exercises regrettable."
The draft "welcomes the fact that Serbia remains constructively committed to bilateral relations with other enlargement countries and neighboring EU member-states," and "encourages Serbia to strengthen its proactive and positive engagement with its neighbors and the wider region, to promote good neighborly relations and to intensify efforts with neighboring countries to solve bilateral issues in accordance with international law," while underlining that "outstanding bilateral disputes should not have a detrimental effect on the accession process."
The EP "welcomes the continued engagement of Serbia on the path of integration into the EU and its constructive and well-prepared approach to the negotiations, which is a clear sign of determination and political will, calls on Serbia to continue to actively promote and communicate this strategic decision among the Serbian population, including by promoting enhanced awareness of Serbian citizens about funding from the EU budget directed to Serbia, invites the Serbian authorities to refrain from anti-EU rhetoric and messages directed at the public, underlines the need for informed, transparent and constructive debates on the EU, its institutions and the implications of membership, takes note of improvements in dialogue and public consultations with relevant stakeholders and civil society as well as their engagement in the EU integration process," states the document that has been adopted by EP's Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The draft resolution also "calls on the authorities to fully protect the independence of these regulatory bodies, to provide full political and administrative support for their work and to ensure proper follow-up of their recommendations" and "to refrain from accusations and unfounded political attacks directed at the ombudsman."
Further, concern is expressed that "no progress has been made to improve the situation regarding freedom of expression and self-censorship of the media, which is a worsening phenomenon," and "stresses that political interference, threats, violence and intimidation against journalists, including physical assaults, verbal and written threats and attacks on property, remain an issue of concern; calls on the authorities to publicly and unequivocally condemn all attacks, to provide adequate resources to investigate more proactively all cases of attacks against journalists and media outlets and to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice."
The draft "welcomes the signing of the agreement on cooperation and protection of journalists between prosecutors, police and journalists and media associations and looks forward to its implementation" and "underlines the need for complete transparency in media ownership and funding of media, encourages the government to guarantee the independence and financial sustainability of both public service media organizations and the financial viability of media content in minority languages, and to increase the role of public broadcasters in this area."
The document paints a mostly favorable picture of human and minority rights protection in Serbia, and "notes that (province of) Vojvodina’s multiethnic, multicultural and multiconfessional diversity also contributes to Serbia’s identity."
"Vojvodina has maintained a high degree of protection for minorities and inter-ethnic situation has remained good," the daft said, and "stresses that the autonomy of Vojvodina should not be weakened and that the law on Vojvodina’s resources should be adopted without further delay, as prescribed by the Constitution."