Respect for minority rights should be a condition for Serbia’s EU accession

Respect for minority rights should be a condition for Serbia’s EU accession

2013. 09. 26.

In his remarks, Tibor Várady professor of law discussed in depth the situation of national councils, e.g. the situation of the Hungarian National Council in Vojvodina. He also discussed the constitutional court’s on-going review of the councils, which is a threat to their competences and it threatens to deconstruct a well-functioning system in place. That would represent a significant step-back for the minorities of Serbia, thus for the Hungarian minority living in Vojvodina as well. Professor Tibor Várady emphasised that the law governing the national councils plays a key role in the stability of Serbia.

In her remarks, Kinga Gál MEP from EPP voiced her opinion: ‘It is unacceptable to deprive minorities from an existing and well-functioning institution protecting minorities’. In her address she also touched upon the incidents where Hungarian nationals were beaten in Serbia. According to the MEP it is essential that ‘the legislation in the field of minority protection was implemented before Serbia can join the EU. This is very important as the experience shows that it becomes harder to successfully safeguard the rights of national minorities after the accession.’

In numerous resolutions on Serbia the EP has stressed the importance of minority national councils and the practical implementation of the law governing these entities. It is also important that these councils can exercise real competences coupled with the necessary financial background in order to carry out successful minority rights protection in everyday life. ‘That is why it is crucial to point the attention of the EP and the European Commission during the accession talks to these issues’ – emphasised Kinga Gál MEP.

LászlóTőkés MEP from Transylvania in his remarks underlined that even though there is a certain positive trend regarding the enjoyment of minority rights in Serbia, there still remains considerable hurdles before Serbia’s future and the country’s EU accession. There is a grave concern regarding the situation of Hungarian minority in Serbia, due to the fact that as a result of decades-worth assimilation process the minority population has diminished, atrocities committed against them have not ceased to exist, and the issue of the boys of Temerin has still not been resolved. That is the reason why LászlóTőkés MEP proposed autonomy for the Hungarian community in Vojvodina modelled on the autonomy provided for the Serb community of Northern Kosovo.

László Tőkés MEP also addressed the past issue of the victims of anti-Hungarian and anti-German mass murders and the situation of Romanian and Vlach minorities. In conclusion he proposed that the accession of Serbia shall be conditional upon the full upholding of minority rights, ‘it is important as – judging by certain Member States’ records – some Member States have failed to live up to their commitments in this regards after their accession’.