Part of the civil society seeks to politicise the negotiations with the EU

06. November 2017. | Belgrade

Part of the civil society seeks to politicise the negotiations with the EU

The Ministry of European Integration and the Negotiating Team for the Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU have announced today that they have noted that there are tendencies by one part of civil society organisations to obstruct the process of cooperation, and to politicise the content of certain, primarily technical issues.

"We have always strived to talk with as many potentially interested actors as we can about the topic of the rule of law, in a very open manner and with arguments. Unfortunately, we note that there is a tendency of one part of civil society organisations to obstruct the established process of cooperation, and to politicise the content of certain, primarily technical issues," the Ministry and the Negotiating Team have stated.

Reacting and responding to the claims made by Director of Transparency Serbia Nemanja Nenadić, which were reported by the media, that "it cannot be said that the rule of law is a priority either for the EU or for Serbia", that due attention is not paid to the issue, and that the authorities deal with the form, and not with the substance, the Ministry and the Negotiating Team have said that "the substance is unequivocally more important than the form, precisely the opposite of what the Director of Transparency Serbia is claiming."

"The fact is that the National Convention on the EU has been a part of the negotiating procedures since 2014, but this has never been an excuse not to talk with other platforms of civil society organisations, individual organisations, institutes, national councils etc. With all those who have sought such conversation with us," the Ministry and the Negotiation Team have said. They have added that they are always open to discussion, exchange of opinions and cooperation with all civil society organisations, regardless of whether they are a part of the Convention or not.

"All information relevant to the negotiating process in Chapters 23 and 24, which is under the responsibility of the Ministry and the Negotiating Team, is available on the Ministry's website − Action Plans, Negotiating Positions, as well as the European Commission's Progress Reports in these chapters. Our goal is to make the process transparent and open to the public, in order for all citizens to get an objective image of the activities and progress in the area of the rule of law," the Ministry and the Negotiating Team have stated.

They have recalled that 100% fulfilment of Action Plans is the goal of the negotiations in Chapters 23 and 24 at the time of their closure.

"This is one of the key reasons why these two chapters are opened at the beginning of the negotiations and closed at the very end," they have stressed, and added:

"During the negotiations, it is crucial to continuously implement reforms and gradually achieve European standards in the field of the rule of law. Aware of this fact, we are actively working with all relevant ministries and institutions involved on the first comprehensive revision of Action Plans in order to achieve even better results than the current fulfilment of 70−80 percent of the envisaged activities at this stage, which is an excellent result, but we believe that we can achieve an even better result".

They have also stated that the negotiation process has been structured in such a way that, at this stage of the negotiations with the EU, we are following the fulfilment of the interim benchmarks for Chapters 23 and 24, which have been translated into two Action Plans, as well as into a special Action Plan for National Minorities.

"Of course, we agree that there are still many issues in the area of the rule of law that have not been included in the interim benchmarks, on which all Member States have agreed as the level to be achieved in the area of the rule of law at this stage of the negotiations. Hence, what we must follow, the information that we must possess is all the information available in the reports on the fulfilment of these Action Plans," the Ministry and the Negotiating Team have said.

They jointly have pointed out that the reports are being prepared on a six-month basis, and that they are firstly discussed and submitted to the public before they are referred to the European Commission.

"All these information and reports we possess are transparent and accessible, and we assume that the Director of Transparency Serbia has at least noticed this. We still believe that all this is not for the sake of fulfilling the form, but for the sake of the essence," the Ministry and the Negotiating Team have stated.

As they have said, the essence is precisely the reason why they will commence with the review of the Action Plans soon, and for all omissions, deadlines, and measures to be aligned with the new development and needs of further reforms in the field of the rule of law.

"Not only for the sake of reaching the deadlines set within the negotiations, but also for the sake of the primary interest of our citizens to progress towards the strengthening of institutions and the rule of law," the Ministry of European Integration and the Negotiating Team have said.

Source: Tanjug