14 September 2007 at 20:30 on Europe by Satellite

Interviews with Jelko Kacin and Joost Lagendijk, MEPs

Full transcript of the interviews recorded in Brussels, European Parliament, on Thursday 13 September 2007.

MEP Jelko KACIN and MEP Joost LAGENDIJK are interviewed on the contents of the 
report adopted by the EP Foreign Relations Committee on Serbia
. This report
will be voted during the plenary session of the European Parliament in October.

00 :00

Exterior views of the European Parliament building in Brussels(5 shots)


Jelko Kacin, MEP, in his office (3 shots)


Jelko Kacin on the course of debate EU-Serbia relations in the Foreign Relations Committee of the EP.

The debate was constructive and lot of participants who expressed their opinion underlined the importance of Serbiaand its integration into EU. That’s why we were able to make very wide consensus concerning so called compromised amendments by which I covered most of the amendments that were submitted. All together 103 we presented and we covered more or less everything by 10 compromise amendments. As I said it was very constructive approach and all of them underlined that the report is well balanced and is somehow an illustration of the progress that was achieved in Serbiain recent months. It is only hundred and ten days after it got its new government and it was born in very, may I say, turbulent period, just before the midnight. It is very important that the Serbian politicians were realistic enough to make necessary compromise and to start step by step the legislation and every day standards to the practise of the EU.


When will the report be discussed in the plenary session?

The basic text and amendments we were voted in the same day. Now I will have to organize another round of consultations with my colleagues shadow raporteurs to find some more appropriate solutions for same amendments so that in the end we will be able to vote on the plenary session at the end of October.


Kacin on so called “compromise amendments” adopted by the Committee

I would say there were few quite important areas. The first one and very contradictory is Kosovo. I had to star by underlining that I’m not in charge of Kosovo, I’m dealing with Serbiaand nothing else and because of that I cannot accept mentioning Kosovo as a part of my report. It is not. These are two separate issues. But at the same time we somehow agree that unsolved question of status of Kosovo is a challenge for everybody and the whole region is hostage of this unsolved challenge. That’s why we believe that when it happens it will have positive consequences not only for Serbiaand Kosovo but for all countries in the neighborhood and accelerate accession of the region as such. It will be a great relief for the Western Balkans. On the other hand it is also true that SAA negotiations are at very end but these negotiations would not have been possible if there was a discussion on Kosovo. These negotiations refer only to situation in Serbia, not in Kosovo, because the situation in Kosovo is not in line with EU standards. That’s why in the package with Kosovo it would have been impossible to have negotiations and agreement.

One very important issue is visa regime. We are trying to accelerate this process and we are also calling the Council and the Commission, Commissioner Frattini, to do outmost to open the borders for the citizens of Serbiato have direct to the EU member countries. We are in favour of visa free regime but to get there is a long path ahead of us and we have to discuss it step by step.

On the other hand, Vojvodina is the question where a lot of my colleagues, mostly from Hungarywere trying to put in something about Hungarians and Hungarian minority. But to be frank, it is not just Hungarians. Vojvodina is multilingual, multicultural so I underlined that since some problems in Vojvodina three years ago there was an obvious progress. I always underline that Vojvodina is the strongest argument that Serbiawill have to use when there will be a next stage of negotiations concerning accession to the EU.


Kacin on Serbia’s cooperation with the International Tribunal in The Hague.

Talking about The Haguetribunal, we are waiting the visit of Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte to Belgrade. I was in Belgradetwo weeks ago and I have had very open discussion with War Crimes Prosecutor Mr Vukcevic who is really doing an excellent job and I believe that he will accomplish his mission. We believe that Serbiawill be able to find and arrest those who are still not in The Hague. We still believe that the transfer of these individuals to The Hagueis precondition for better relations in the region as such and specially for the relatives of victims of Srebrenica. There can be no understanding for the further progress without delivering those individuals to The Hague


Kacin on the political significance of the EP report on EU-Serbia relations and EU perspective for the countries of the Western Balkans.

We are trying to support and to motivate not just Serbian citizens but first of all Serbian to prove themselves. We simply believe that Serbiais the biggest country in the region, it has administrative and political capacity. I simply believe that Serbiacan deliver much more in much shorter period, compared with the previous periods. So it is now on the side of Serbiato speed up the process and to be pioneer in the region and to create necessary dynamism. Two weeks ago there was a strategic conference in Sloveniain Bled, and the title was Enlargement 2020. I simply believe that until 2020 we can create a common EU between Ljubljanaand Thessaloniki. There is a challenge for everybody in the region to speed up the process and to fill that great gap in the Western Balkans wit the EU substance.


European Parliament building in Brussels(1 shot)


MEP Joost Lagendijk on why Kosovo status process is not mentioned in the report.

I think that one mistake has been made in the report because there was obviously no majority in favour of referring in one paragraph to the whole Kosovo debate. Because I think it is creating an illusion that these are two separate issues. Of course, they are being dealt with in the separate reports but everybody know that even if Serbia complies with all things that are in the Serbia’s report but they mess up on the Kosovo issue, it will have strong repercussions on Serbia’s chances to open accession negotiations. So I would like to have in a very positive Serbia report a reference on what we would expect Serbia to do, that is to act constructively in the Kosovo issue, because if they don’t, even if don’t mention that in the report we know that it will have repercussions on Serbia – EU relations.


Lagendijk on Serbia’s cooperation with ICTY in The Hague

If you listen carefully the statements by EU Commissioner Olli Rehn but also by Ms Carla Del Ponte you see that the criteria now is the full cooperation. When I listen to my colleagues from the EP who have recently been in Belgrade, they have impression that Belgradeauthorities are doing their outmost, maximum they can do. The result is for the moment not the capture of Mladic or Karadzic, but I think there is an impression that the Serbs are cooperating in good way and the fact that he is not captured is not to be blamed on the Serbs as it was the case in the past. So for the moment there is this shifting of opinions which is probably good to stimulate the new government to continue on this present course. I think there could be the signing of SAA but then the issue will not go away. For the EU to make further steps, to talk about candidate status and accession negotiation, there has to be a result of all these efforts and that is the arrest of Mladic.


Exterior view of the European Parliament in Brussels(1shot)