Thursday

9th Jul 2020

Gay rights not decisive for Serbia-EU talks

Brussels on Thursday (4 October) gave Belgrade a tongue-lashing on gay rights, but the issue is unlikely to decide when Serbia can start EU entry talks.

Peter Stano, the spokesman for enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele, said the EU "regrets" Serbia's decision to ban a gay pride parade due on Saturday - the second year in a row the country has stopped the event.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Mural in Belgrade. EU statements on Thursday all condemned the pride march decision (Photo: Dmitry Kuzmin)

He added that respect for sexual minorities is one of the "core foundations of the European project."

He also urged Belgrade to bring to justice far-right activists who made threats of violence and for Serbia to hold a "constructive" national debate on toleration.

The discussion on gay rights comes at a delicate time.

The commission will next Wednesday publish its annual report on Western Balkan countries' progress on EU enlargement.

Early drafts of the paper indicate it will not recommend a date for starting accession talks with Serbia, saying it must first make progress on fighting organised crime and implement previous deals on better day-to-day relations with Kosovo.

An EU source said a date might still be inserted at the last minute and that the commission is keen to "keep countries [such as Serbia] engaged in the process" of pro-EU reforms.

The contact added that even if the Serbia report includes a few harsh words on gay rights, the pride march will not be the deciding factor on when to open the accession negotiations.

"This is an important area. But it's just one element and there are other more important issues," he said.

For their part, Green, liberal and centre-left MEPs also lined up to attack Serbia's gay pride decision.

"It is another lost opportunity for Serbia which perpetuates an image this country does not deserve," Jelko Kacin, the Slovenian liberal MEP tasked with drafting an EU parliament report on Serbia next week, noted.

Meanwhile, a contact at Serbia's EU embassy in Brussels told EUobserver the decision has nothing to do with politics.

"It is not aimed at harming and denying anyone's human and civil rights and freedoms, but it has been made in order to protect the safety of citizens of Belgrade and prevent possible clashes and riots," he said.

"Serbia respects commissioner [Fuele's] position and seriously considers every recommendation coming from the European Commission," he added.

Respect was wanting in recent statements made for internal Serbian consumption, however.

In September, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said: "Screw the kind of Union for which gay pride marches are the entry ticket."

Kosovo to Serbia: Time to face reality

Kosovo's foreign minister has said the end of supervised independence should make Serbia realise it can never divide Kosovo or get it back.

Serb leader bashes EU ahead of key report

Srebrenica was not genocide and Serbia will not bow to demands for Kosovo recognition, Serbia's leader has said on the eve of a key EU report.

News in Brief

  1. France and Germany warn Israel on annexation 'consequences'
  2. Shipping firms to face EU carbon regime
  3. EU to mediate between Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey
  4. EU to unveil arms-trafficking and drug proposals
  5. EU to discuss people-smuggling with African states
  6. 'Torture chamber' found in Dutch sea containers
  7. Commissioner backs under-attack Hungarian news site
  8. New French government tilts to right

Opinion

Wanted: EU-US cooperation on Kosovo

International burden-sharing worked in Kosovo - until the Trump administration announced White House talks with the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia on June 27, leaving the EU special envoy for the Western Balkans in the dark.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Merkel urges EU unity to hold off economic fallout and populism
  2. The opportunistic peace
  3. EU mulls new system to check illegal pushbacks of migrants
  4. EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row
  5. Revealed: fossil-fuel lobbying behind EU hydrogen strategy
  6. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  7. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  8. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us