”This is the chance for Serbia to demonstrate its European perspective” – statement at 10 EU-Serbia SAPC meeting

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On 27 March the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee held its 10th meeting in Strasbourg, where Gunnar Hökmark gave a statement on the state of play of EU-Serbia relations:

”Let me start with being honest – things are not looking that great in Serbia at the moment. The anti-government protests have been ongoing for months now and there are no adequate signs of conciliation. Freedom House’s 2019 report downgrades Serbia from being the only country in the Western Balkans to be considered as ”free” to now only being rated as ”partly free”. The relationship with Kosovo is close to an all-time low since the end of the war with the 100 % import tariffs on Serbian goods.

This is the chance for Serbia to demonstrate its European perspective. Now is the time to act. Serbia must not let frustration and internal challenges get in the way of their future ambitions, and we must firmly stand by Serbia and demonstrate our support and willingness for them to join the Union.

As I have mentioned at many times before , the cost of non-enlargement cannot be underestimate. We may not be very satisfied with the current state of play but we must not forget why we are gathered here today – and that is our joint quest for European values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

There is no doubt of where and what the Baltic States would have been today if they had not been part of the European Union. This is what we need to keep in mind as we continue our discussions.”