European Western Balkans

Statements on urgent debate of the European Parliament on Vojislav Seselj's return to Serbia

Strasbourg, November 27, 2014

Statements of Eduard Kukan and Tanja Fajon on urgent debate of the European Parliament on Vojislav Seselj’s return to Serbia.

Following the urgent debate of the European Parliament on Vojislav Seselj’s return to Serbia and the EP’s resolution, Eduard Kukan, Member of the European Parliaments Committee on Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the EU-Serbia SAPC, stated:

“First of all, I fully understand the evil of wartime rhetoric, hate speech against neighbouring countries and minorities, especially in the Western Balkans. Therefore, I will always fight for policies of peace and reconciliation. Seselj’s public appearances go exactly against these principles, which we have supported and invested a great amount of political capital into.

However, our response should not create more tension. Especially by giving this accused war criminal more attention than he deserves. Instead, we should clearly support those who believe that wartime rhetoric should not have place in Serbia or anywhere in the region.

It is unfortunate that Seselj’s radical statements have been given such unnecessary attention by media and some politicians. I only hope it is not be used it as an instrument of further political tensions in the region.

Finally, this resolution is not meant to give instructions to the ICTY. It is an independent international body with a clear mandate from the United Nations. It is for these reasons that I hesitate to support this resolution.”

Following the urgent debate of the European Parliament on Vojislav Seselj’s return to Serbia and the EP’s resolution, Tanja Fajon, rapporteur for Serbia within the political group of Socialist and Democrats in the EP, said the following:

I regret that the EP did not show enough of political will during the urgent debate on the case of accused Vojislav Šešelj and prevent the adoption of this Resolution.

Even though I am a vocal opponent of hate speech, as well as all forms of radicalism, nationalism and war rhetoric, I am convinced that this Resolution only adds fuel to the fire. It gives Šešelj additional attention and presents a reaction to his provocations, which is exactly how we should not have reacted. Furthermore, it criticizes the independent International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, working under the UN mandate, which I see as innapropriate.

It is my wish that in the future the EP is not used as a platform where matters of national politics are promoted or dealt with.

As a shadow rapporteur I believe that Serbia is doing a good job on its road to the EU. I will continue to support implementation of necessary reforms, as well as good relations with other countries in the region. This is also why I planned a visit to Belgrade on the 12th of December, which will be an excellent opportunity to obtain more detailed and first-hand information about the state of negotiations, as well as challenges which lie ahead of Serbia.

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