European Western Balkans

Criticism of EU due to vaccine procurement, attempt to relativize submitted amendments to EP report on Serbia

President Vučić visits the storage of medical equipment; Photo: Presidency of Serbia

Amendments to the European Parliament’s report on Serbia are the latest reason for attacks by government officials on the European Union. As the European Western Balkans wrote earlier, in the “compromise amendments”, for the first time, among other things, objections were made due to unresolved scandals that put pressure on the current government.

“Serbia is called upon to achieve convincing results… in the fight against corruption and organized crime, especially in cases where there is a high level of public interest, including the cases of Krušik, Jovanjica and Telekom Srbija,” reads one of the “compromise amendments.

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, was the first to comment on the text of the proposed amendments and told European officials that they cannot make a political profit by lying. As H1 reports, he pointed out that Serbia solved the Jovanjica affair by arresting those responsible, adding that there was no affair.

“What is the affair in Jovanjica? You think that lies can make a political profit, even if it was from the European Commission “, said Vučić on that occasion.

Regarding the content of the proposed amendments, Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin stated that if the EU deputies could not or did not want to send vaccines to Serbia, they did not even have to send amendments.

“As you have kept medical equipment and vaccines to yourself, I ask Europeans to keep their political views, the pressures on our judiciary and hypocrisy, to themselves as well. If you can’t give us what we need, feel free to save what we don’t need at all”, Vulin told.

Among other things, the amendments to the report of the rapporteur for the European Parliament Vladimir Bilčik stated that Serbia should achieve results in the fight against organized crime and corruption and condemn the attacks and hate speech to which political opponents, independent intellectuals and media are exposed in the Serbian Parliament.

The Minister for European Integration, Jadranka Joksimović, rejected the criticism directed at Brussels and the distribution of vaccines by the Minister in the Government of Serbia, Aleksandar Vulin.

Stating that it is true that Serbia has not bought a single dose through the COVAX mechanism, Joksimović said for Radio Free Europe (RFE) that this does not mean that the EU is not in solidarity with Serbia. but that the COVAX system does not work as expected.

“That is really clear to everyone. We did not accuse the EU of that of a single moment, but we did the best we could to provide vaccines for our citizens,” said Joksimović.

She pointed out that the Government included Serbia’s European integration among her priorities, and that Aleksandar Vulin is a minister who leads his political party with his own program.

“Aleksandar Vulin is a minister who leads his political party with his own program, but it is clear that the policy of the Government of Serbia has defined European integration as one of its six strategic goals and each government institution has its share in achieving that goal,” Joksimovic told.
The President of the National Assembly, Ivica Dačić, assessed today that the goal of the amendment to the report on Serbia in the European Parliament is to put pressure on Serbia and its leadership.
“Everyone has the right to make amendments, we will see what will be accepted from that.” We should not be surprised by anything, it is additional pressure on Serbia. It is a well-tried recipe when they want to achieve certain geopolitical interests “, said Dačić. 

Criticism of the EU for vaccines – a replacement thesis

The vice president of the European Movement in Serbia (EPuS), Vladimir Medjak, explained  N1 that the amendments on Serbia were agreed between the four largest groups in the European Parliament, and that he said that the ruling European People’s Party (EPP) could not do things like the EP report on Serbia. adopts itself.

“This only shows that the ruling largest party, the European People’s Party, which has a rapporteur for Serbia and is close to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party in Serbia, can no longer adopt such things on its own, nor propose them, nor simply reach a final text, because now, due to such a constellation in the European Parliament, a consensus of these four groups is needed,” said Medjak.

Nikola Burazer, the executive editor of the European Western Balkans portal for RFE, pointed out that the procurement of vaccines has nothing to do with the European integration process.

He assessed that this is another attempt to relativize the criticism coming from the EU against Serbia.

“This is an attempt to relativize the criticism coming from the European Union and to shift the discussion to the field that is currently desirable for the Serbian government, and that is the issue of vaccine procurement and the absence of vaccines from the European Union, which is often deliberately used to criticize the EU.” regardless of the real reasons why it is so”, Burazer emphasized.

He assessed that such rhetoric definitely affects the image of the European Union in Serbia.
“Research shows that 75 percent of citizens believe that China helped Serbia the most during the pandemic and that three percent believe that it is the European Union, although the data say quite differently,” Burazer concluded.

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