Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

2012 progress report on Serbia

Delivered in Plenary - 17th April 2013

Mr President

It is hard to imagine that just 14 years ago the cities of Serbia were being bombed by NATO jets and there was a dictator in power. It seemed unthinkable then that Serbia would so quickly be transformed into a stable, prosperous democracy, now with candidate status to join the European Union. We can all celebrate this coming to pass so quickly.

This is not to say that Serbia does not still have a lot of work to do in the domestic arena. Concerns remain in particular over corruption and the rule of law, and particularly the abuse of Article 359, as my colleague György Schöpflin has mentioned.

Internationally, Serbia has nevertheless made great progress in building friendships with its neighbours, but the relationship with Croatia is still far from ideal. And it is regrettable that Prime Minister Dačić is so far unable to reach an agreement with Prime Minister Thaçi of Kosovo, despite many months of Baroness Ashton’s laudable EU-sponsored dialogue.

Finally I would encourage Serbia to continue its work in bringing war criminals to justice and assisting the victims of the war. There is therefore much to welcome in Serbia’s accession process, but I look forward to seeing far more progress in future when it eventually opens negotiations in the relevant chapters and finally settles the whole status, situation and relationship with neighbouring Kosovo.