Addressing the Serbian National Assembly today, PACE President Pedro Agramunt commended Serbia’s approach to the refugee crisis, stressing that a year ago, Serbia was particularly affected by a massive arrival of migrants and refugees, and did its utmost to allow them to cross the country in the best possible conditions.
“The current refugee influx will not stop in the foreseeable future, and no country alone can cope effectively with the challenge,” he warned, stressing the need for a common and realistic approach based on solidarity and fair responsibility-sharing. “Agreements reached at multilateral level must be respected, not undermined by unilateral actions,” he pointed out.
Faced with challenges such as the refugee crisis, international terrorism, the wave of left and right-wing populism and unresolved conflicts in Europe, “the only way to move forward is to focus on what unites us, privileging dialogue over confrontation,” Mr Agramunt said. “We have to work together and seek solutions where there are issues that divide us, seek compromise to achieve our common goals,” he added.
He denounced the hate and fear that terrorists propagate and recalled the PACE #NoHateNoFear initiative launched in June this year.
He also commended Prime Minister Vučić for his commitment to reconciliation in the region and the development of regional co-operation. Regarding reconciliation, the President stressed that “some courageous steps have been taken by politicians who have shown leadership, vision and responsibility” and that “the reconciliation efforts in South-East Europe should serve as an example for those member States of the Council of Europe which are still, unfortunately, divided by conflict”.
Finally, he mentioned Serbia’s progress on the path of European integration and the co-operation between the country and the Council of Europe in this context. “The preparation for EU accession implies serious reforms in the areas of the judiciary, anti-corruption, respect for fundamental and minority rights, and freedom of the media, as well as security, areas in which the Council of Europe stands ready to provide valuable expertise to help you achieve your goal. Together we can make progress much faster,” he concluded, encouraging government officials and parliamentarians to make full use of the Council of Europe's expertise.