"Serbia made progress," says EP rapporteur

EP rapporteur David McAllister says the report on Serbia, that will be presented today, "is balanced and reflects the state of affairs truthfully."

Source: B92
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The German politician told B92 that his personal view was that Serbia has made "great progress" towards European integration and that it should become a member when it meets all the requirements.

"The EU is not a closed shop, there is room for expansion, but if you want to become part of it, you must meet certain requirements," said McAllister.

He confirmed that his report drew attention to the seriousness of the structural reforms undertaken by the government of Serbia, "which therefore earned his praise."

"I know how important the topic of restructuring of public enterprises is in your country, as well as the reduction of public debt and deficit. These are all very important and difficult measures," he said, adding that the government of Prime Minister Vucic, therefore, deserves praise.

"Not enough people know that serious reforms are carried out at a time when Serbia is recovering from the effects of severe flooding that occurred in May. The EU reacted at the time and tried to help as the biggest of all donors," said the European Parliament (EP) rapporteur for Serbia.

McAllister noted the part of his report that drew the most comments was the one stating that Serbia "is not aligned with the European foreign policy," that is, that it has not answered the call to impose sanctions on Russia.

"I understand that the situation is delicate, that there are special relations between Serbia and Russia, but the report had note that the government in Belgrade was urged to harmonize its policies with the European and that it decided to not do so at this point. Common foreign policy is very important for the EU and it is logical that if you're part of the club, you must bear that in mind."

McAllister, however, added that that Serbia has already largely aligned its policy with the EU on other issues.

He sees Serbia's OSCE chairmanship as "a special challenge and a great compliment" to the country. "Serbia's position towards Russia could help during the presidency," he added, saying that its work will be "particularly" followed in his country, Germany, which will be the OSCE chair in 2016.

Asked whether the EP was acting too harshly toward Serbia when adopting resolutions, such as the one concerning Vojislav Seselj, McAllister responded negatively.

"That resolution, which was supported by a vast majority of the EP, was the condemnation of hate speech, insults toward other people and calls for violence," he said, adding that he believed "Serbia was merely invited to distance itself from such things."

He did not wish to comment on speculation that one of EP's next resolution might condemn Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic - "for his statements about Kosovo and the EU."

"He's the president of a country, he has his own views and I do not want to comment on them." The EP official then said he was "very satisfied" with the work of Tanja Miscevic, head of the Serbian negotiating team, and had "good cooperation" with Minister without Portfolio in charge of EU integration, Jadranka Joksimovic.

Finally, McAllister said that during his visit to Serbia, where he talked with many people from the political and public life, he "heard about problems in the media."

"In democratic societies, it is important that there is opposition to an elected government and that their voice is heard. It is also important to allow smooth operation of the media and freedom of expression. These are fundamental values ​​of the European Union," said he.

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