MEPs call on Serbia to reconsider relations with Russia

NEWS 11.06.2022 13:38
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Source: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

As a candidate for membership in the European Union, Serbia should show its commitment to EU policies and standards, among others in relation to Russia, where Belgrade should comply with the Union's restrictive measures, review relations in the economic sphere and defense policy and fight against misinformation from The Kremlin, according to a document from the European Parliament's Foreign Policy Committee (AFET).

The draft document, which AFET will get for a vote on 13-14 June and the European Parliament later in July, underlines that the pace of Serbia’s EU accession will depend on progress in the chapters on the rule of law and fundamental rights, full alignment with EU foreign, security and defense policy, including sanctions on Russia, and progress in normalisation of relations with Kosovo.

The draft resolution, based on the Report of the European Commission for 2021, has been supplemented with numerous amendments which have specified and strengthened some assessments.

On the most pressing issue – the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with regret that Serbia has not complied with EU sanctions, it was said that Serbia is one of only a few European countries that have not done so and the newly elected authorities are called to show “real unequivocal commitment to values, standards and EU rules.”

The Serbian authorities are among other things also urged to urgently align with EU positions and decisions in foreign and security policy, including the application of restrictive measures against Russia and Belarus, and including sanctions against individuals, groups and entities.

It is stated that Serbia supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and in the UN General Assembly voted to condemn the Russian invasion, and also that it supported Russia's exclusion from the UN Human Rights Council, but that Serbian representatives avoided voting to exclude Russia from the Council of Europe.

Regarding the media, it is noted that the misuse of public money to reduce media ownership is considered one of the main mechanisms for capturing the media in Serbia, so the document calls for information on media ownership to be made available to the public.

It also calls for more transparency in media financing, as well as the creation of conditions that allow independent and investigative media access to finance and safe work.

The document also expresses a regret over the spread of misinformation about the Russian aggression on Ukraine, including in the media close to the government, and calls on the Serbian authorities to take decisive steps in the fight against misinformation.

Of particular concern is the Kremlin's disinformation through Sputnik Serbia and other domestic actors, and the Serbian authorities are called to comply with EU sanctions and take measures to prevent Rasha Tudej and Sputnik Serbia from spreading false news and misinformation.

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