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News 10 Nov 16

Serbia Rightist MPs Block Presentation of EU Report

The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Michael Davenport, was unable to present the EU report on Serbia’s progress to the Serbian parliament following objections from right-wing opposition parties.

Milivoje Pantovic
BIRN
Belgrade
The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Michael Davenport. Photo: Beta

The session of the Serbian parliament's Board for EU Integration on Thursday was postponed due to objections from two opposition right-wing parties, the Serbian Radical Party and Dveri, which insisted on the report being written in Serbian, not English.

The Radicals and Dveri argued that the report must be written in Serbian since English - the language in which the European Commission report was written - is not an official language.

“Davenport has no right to participate in the work of this Board. However, he could be called to the special session of parliament,” Radical MP Marko Sarovic said.

He and other Radical MPs also said that Davenport could not take up a seat reserved for the Chairman of the Board, and should be seated in the gallery of the parliament as a guest.

Addressing MPs and members of the Board for EU integration, Chairwoman Marina Tepic explained to MPs that the report was not written in Serbian since it is a report from the EU in which English is one of the official languages.

She said that Davenport would speak about the essence of the report in Serbian, however this concession also did not satisfy the objecting MPs.

Dveri leader MP Bosko Obradovic said it was inappropriate for a UK citizen to speak to the Serbian Pparliament about EU accession when “his country voted to exit the EU”, referring to the June UK referendum on EU membership.

“As an official of the EU from the UK, Davenport is not competent to be at this Board session. He could give a report on Brexit,” Obradovic said ironically.

It was not stated when the next session of the Board for EU integration will be held, or when the report will be presented.

Johannes Hahn, EU Enlargement Commissioner, presented annual progress reports on the Western Balkans and Turkey to the European Commission in Brussels on Wednesday.

The reports said that reforms across the region were “moving forward in most countries” but at a different pace.

“Serbia has also taken major steps forward, which led to the first four chapters of the EU accession negotiations being opened, including on rule of law and on normalisation of its relations with Kosovo,” Hahn said during the presentation of the report.

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