European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilcik MEP said on Tuesday that the latest European Commission report on Serbia’s progress towards European Union membership reflects the important message that the EU is trying to convey to the Western Balkans: focus on the reform process.
“The marathon towards EU membership is lined with reforms but the pace of running – as in every marathon – must be constant and predictable,” he said in written remarks on the publication of the report.
Bilcik said that it is also time to look carefully at the EU’s role in supporting the enlargement process. “We need to be bold in our vision for the region and we need to be engaged on the ground. We across the EU must show genuine interest in the European perspective for the countries in the Western Balkans. While we declare our enlargement goals over and over again, it is imperative that we demonstrate these words through deeds, for example by including our partners actively in the Conference on the Future of Europe. Our European commitment is all the more important as we are witnessing inflammatory rhetoric in a number of countries across the Western Balkans,” he said.
He said that Serbia has to dedicate itself to opening up the political landscape to ensure free, competitive and fair elections next year. “This means, on the one hand, that implementation of the Inter-Party Dialogue agreements is crucial, and on the other hand, that all political forces compete in the elections,” said.
The rapporteur warned that recent tensions between Belgrade and Pristina point to the fragility of the status-quo. “While I welcome the efforts of both sides to scale down the tension, the situation on the ground demonstrates that we need serious and continued engagement from both Belgrade and especially Pristina towards work on a comprehensive and legally binding agreement,” he added.