Wednesday

12th May 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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. Israeli rockets kill 20 people in Gaza retaliation
  2. No more EU expulsions likely over Russia bomb attacks
  3. EU ready to ignore Hungary veto on Hong Kong
  4. Borrell admits EU neglect of Western Balkans
  5. Macron accused of 'cowardice and deceit' in military letter
  6. EU citizens in UK applying for settled status face legal limbo
  7. Netherlands gives €2bn to offshore carbon storage project
  8. Germany will allow Johnson & Johnson vaccine for all ages

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Russia penetrated Merkel's 'inner circle', Khodorkovsky says
  2. First recovery euros could be paid out in July
  3. Commission wants help for Italy after weekend's migrant arrivals
  4. Mercosur trade deal will fuel 'poison pesticides' back into EU
  5. Can new Iran talks avoid mistakes of the original JCPOA?
  6. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  7. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  8. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us