The European Parliament on Thursday approved a progress report on Serbia underlining that normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and respect for the country’s fundamental rights are crucial in setting the pace of accession negotiations.
The report calls on Serbia to achieve concrete results in justice, media freedom and the fight against corruption, welcoming economic indicators and participation in regional co-operation.
The report also acknowledged Serbia’s progress in developing a functioning market economy, and encouraged the Serbian government to continue implementing structural reforms in this area, according to a statement posted on the European Parliament’s website.
In addition, the report welcomes the fact that EU membership remains Serbia’s strategic goal and that all parliamentary parties support Serbia’s EU accession process, but also encourages the Serbian authorities to show their commitment to European values more actively and decisively in the public sphere, expecting a clear and unequivocal commitment both in word and deed to fulfill its obligations towards EU membership in a visible and verifiable manner.
The MEPs reiterated the importance of aligning with the EU’s foreign and security policy, noting that Serbia’s rate of alignment is currently the lowest in the region.
They also expressed concern about the efficiency of the functioning of the Serbian parliament. The MEPs claim there is no parliamentary opposition in parliament and its legitimacy is being challenged by opposition parties.
Additionally, they deplore the decision of portions of the opposition to boycott the elections, calling on the main opposition to return to the negotiating table and continue participating in political and parliamentary activities.
The report calls for results from Serbia in the judiciary, freedom of expression and the fight against corruption and organized crime, especially in cases of high public interest such as those of Krusik, Jovanjica and Telekom Srbija.
It also asks for improved results in investigations, charges and convictions in high-level corruption cases, including the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets, reiterating its call for justice in the demolition of private property in Belgrade’s Savamala neighborhood in 2018.
It is stressed that the campaign of violence, intimidation and slander of political opponents and media representatives conducted by MPs in the plenary session of the National Assembly constitutes a violation of democratic practice and basic democratic values.
On the other hand, the adoption of the new media strategy action plan and the fact that a working group will be set up to oversee the implementation of the strategy and the plan are welcomed.
It is also recalled that the relocation of the Serbian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would contradict the EU’s position on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute between the two countries.
The report welcomes Serbia’s co-operation with the EU in the field of Roma integration, the finalization of late translations of primary school textbooks into Bulgarian, while it also praises the strong representation of women in the new parliament and Serbia’s participation in the regional initiative.
Furthermore, the report salutes Serbia’s progress in developing a functioning market economy and calls on Belgrade to continue its efforts to boost competitiveness and long-term, sustainable and inclusive growth through structural reforms.
The report also welcomes Serbia’s active involvement in transport and trans-European network projects, including the construction of the Nis-Merdare-Pristina highway.
The 105-point report was adopted by 538 votes to 69, with 79 abstentions.
The MEPs also adopted reports on Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia. /ibna