The EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee’s 10th meeting in Strasbourg called for more rule of law, and media freedom in the country, the European Parliament said in a statement issued on Thursday, TV N1 reports. The statement says as follows:
“Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia met in Strasbourg on 27 March 2019 for the 10th meeting of the EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Eduard Kukan (EPP, SK) and Mr. Vladimir Orlić (SNS).
Parliamentarians held in-depth and fruitful discussions on a number of important issues, including the implementation of the EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Agreement, the Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, the rule of law with a focus on democratic governance, parliamentary procedures and media freedom.
Mr Kukan welcomed the progress made in developing a functioning market economy in Serbia. He stressed that the European Parliament is fully supportive of the country’s continued engagement on the path towards the European Union. In order to achieve this, more progress is required in terms of Serbia’s ambitious reform agenda, notably as regards the rule of law and media freedom. Indeed, violence and intimidation against journalists should not be taking place in a country aspiring to join the EU. Serbia needs a pluralistic media landscape with adequate financing and safeguards to protect journalists, including in the local media.
Mr Kukan further stressed that continued commitment by both sides to the EU‑facilitated dialogue is necessary to reach a comprehensive, legally binding agreement. Belgrade and Pristina need to reach an agreement that resolves all outstanding issues before joining the EU and both sides have to contribute to a conducive environment in order to achieve this.
The first step would be that the authorities in Pristina suspend the 100% customs tariffs on goods produced in Serbia. Both Serbia and Kosovo should remain multi-ethnic and any agreement could only be acceptable if it is mutually agreed, in line with international law and if it takes into account the overall stability in the region. Such an agreement can be achieved, if there is a political will.