Vladimir Bilčík, the European Parliament (EP) Rapporteur for Serbia, told N1 on Thursday (25.02) that Belgrade invited the EP to facilitate the inter-party dialogue in the country in 2019, ahead of the previous elections, and added he was looking forward to the new talks hoping those opposition parties which boycotted the 2020 vote would take part in the 2022 race.
He confirmed March 1 as the date of the online dialogue. He said the EP delegation would include the Chair of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister, the Chair of the Delegation for relations with Serbia, Tanja Fajon, and former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein.
The four current and former MEPs already worked together to establish the Inter-Party Dialogue and its first phase.
On the Serb side, Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic will take part in the online meeting.
Dacic said he would have talks with McAllister, and that no party’s representatives would take part. He also said the dialogue would not be held under the EP’s auspices, but under Serbia’s Parliament, i.e., his patronage backed by the EP.
Bilčík said he hoped the dialogue would enable wider inter-party talks about better election conditions and that the opposition parties that did not want to take part in 2020 general elections after they said the EP’s facilitation did not bring satisfactorily changes and that Serbia’s authorities did not implement what was agreed.
Asked if he believed that the authorities and the opposition would reach an agreement, Bilčík said the only credible option for Serbia was in Europe and the work needed to be done for that to happen.
Commenting on his report on Serbia adopted by the EP Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), he said the MEPs had a detailed discussion and that the report resulted from a compromise.
The report noted some progress Serbia had made but warned there was a lot to be done, particularly in judiciary reform and the rule of law.
Bilčík said that the report was still not in its final version and suggested more talks later.
He also said the Belgrade – Pristina relations were one of the critical issues but that the rule of law and judiciary reform was a challenging topic since some needed Constitutional changes.
Bilčík reiterated that Serbia had to adjust its foreign and security policies with the EU as a crucial point in the bloc’s accession negotiations.