MEPs have adopted a resolution in Brussels welcoming Serbia’s progress in making economic reforms, but urging the Serbian authorities to step up their efforts to improve the rule of law in the country. The resolution, which was adopted by 503 votes to 85, was part of an evaluation of the state of reforms in six aspiring EU members states in the Western Balkans.
The adopted resolution begins by acknowledging Serbia’s “persistent engagement on the road to European Union integration” and highlights Serbia’s efforts to normalise ties with neighbouring Kosovo under the dialogue facilitated by the EU. However in light of recent debates about an exchange of territories between Serbia and Kosovo the resolution “underlines that ethnically homogeneous states should not be the objective in the region.”
The resolution called on Belgrade to “intensify the fight against corruption and organised crime, and continue to reform the country’s public administration to make it more politically neutral.” Serbia, they said, “should also be more aligned with the EU’s foreign and security policy, including on Russia…”
During the debate on the resolution, Serbia was criticised by Tanja Fajon of the Socialists and Democrats group for its treatment of critical media and members of the opposition.
She was joined by Igor Šoltes from the Greens, who said “There is a lot of room for improvement in the areas of freedom of speech and freedom of media, there needs to be more cooperation with NGOs”.
The European Parliament rapporteur on Serbia David McAllister (EPP, DE) said: “Serbia is making good progress on its strategic goal to join the EU with 14 negotiation chapters now opened, two of them being provisionally closed. With all energy focused on adopting and implementing reforms, in particular in the rule of law chapters and on the normalisation of relations with Kosovo, more chapters could be opened in the months to come. The European Parliament stands ready to further support Serbia on its European path,” he said.