Bogovic: Serbia is becoming a guarantor of stability in the Western Balkans

Bogovič: For three decades, the people of Serbia have been hostages of their own politicians, while today when entering the EU they are hostages of politicians from the neighbouring countries and of hesitating EU enlargement policy

BRUSSELS, 01.07.2015. At yesterday’s round table entitled “Serbia on its way to the EU membership” organized at the European Parliament by an informal group named “Friends of Serbia” ̶  the group is led by the Member of the European Parliament from Romania Emilian Pavel and the Vice-President, the Member of the European Parliament Franc Bogovič  ̶  a lively debate took place about the future of Serbia in the EU among the representatives of the Serbian authorities and the members of the European Parliament. The Serbian delegation was led by the first Vice-President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dačić, while the event also hosted David McAllister, the European Parliament rapporteur on Serbia, Eduard Kukan, the chairperson of the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, Michael Karnitschnig, the Head of the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and many others.

During the discussion, it was particularly emphasized that Serbia has been investing a lot of effort into opening first chapters at the start of negotiations process with the European Commission, and in particular for the most demanding chapters 23 and 24 which encompass areas of judiciary, basic rights, freedom and security. The Vice-President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dačić at this occasion emphasized that Serbia is putting so much effort into this primarily because of itself and not because of others, but that they also want friends for Serbia across Europe, and in particular in the European Parliament.

Franc Bogovič (SLS/EPP), member of the European Parliament, also spoke at the round table as the Co-President of the “Friends of Serbia” group. He emphasized that in contrast to its stormy recent past Serbia today with its reform policy is becoming a guarantor of stability in the Western Balkans. The latter is particularly important in times where certain conflicts arise in some of the neighbouring countries. “The expansion must be continued and political will for this within the EU should not run short, as the countries in this part of Europe also deserve equal treatment as the one offered to the EU member states in previous enlargements”, explained Bogovič who is afraid that the EU pre-accession assistance in the next financial perspective is too low both for Serbia as well as for other candidate countries from the Western Balkans area.

Comparable countries which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria) will receive in the financial perspectives 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 at least ten times more funds from the European cohesion and agriculture funds that Serbia through the pre-accession assistance. In Bogovič opinion, it is hard to expect that Serbia will manage to fulfil all required conditions which will be imposed to them by the EU with merely 1.5 billion euros of pre-accession assistance. In particular, Serbia is facing a demanding reconstruction of municipal and water supply infrastructure.

“Since Europe is currently facing an identity crisis with Euroscepticism on the rise, it has to be clearly demonstrated to the citizens of the candidate countries, what does the membership in the European integration actually mean: that it means progress, development, and in particular opportunities for being successful in a much larger European market. Through opening of negotiation chapters and successful negotiations, and in particular through real and tangible assistance for Serbia on its way, the attitude of the Serbian society towards the European institutions will turn into positive direction, which at this moment is the most important”, also emphasized Bogovič. In the morning, as the Vice-President of the “Friends of Serbia” group Bogovič separately welcomed also the Delegation of the People’s Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, who also participated at the round table. The delegation consisted of the following members: Gordana Čomić, (Democratic Party), Vladimir Orlić, (Serbian Progressive Party) and Vesna Marković (Serbian Progressive Party).