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    • Serbia should continue the reform process after Brexit in order to achieve Europen standards

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    • Date: 27 June 2016
      Police reform is crucial for Serbia’s progress under negotiating Chapter 24, it was assessed at the panel discussion organized by BCSP and OSCE.

      Britain’s exit from the European Union may slow down the enlargement process, but it certainly will not stop it, it was the conclusion of the meeting “What can we expect after the opening of Chapter 24?”, organized by the Belgrade Centre for Securty Policy together with the OSCE Mission to Serbia on June 24th, 2016 in Mikser House in Belgrade.

      “EU member states will focus their attention on domestic issues after the Brexit, which will put aside the enlargement process. Nevertheless, Serbia needs to seriously commit to reforms, which are the necessary part of the European integration process, and consistently implement them fully. The key is to provide European standards in the areas of justice, freedom and security for the citizens of Serbia”, director of BCSP Sonja Stojanovic Gajic highlighted.

      For Serbia, Brexit means it will have to cooperate with neighbours in the Balkans even more, not only with the EU, and the implementation of reforms from the Chapter 24 will contribute to the development of the rule of law and provide greater access to justice, which a direct benefit of the citizens, it was said at the panel.

      „Reforms within the framework of Chapter 24 are important for the EU accession process, but are also essential for Serbia’s transition, on its European path. The rule of law is crucial, because it lays foundations of democracy and it is a symbol of social development”, stated the Head of the Regional Balkans Rule of Law Unit, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Onny Jalink.

      Senior Legal Advisor at the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Maurizio Salustro said that slowing down the accession process due to Brexit must not necessarily be a bad thing

      “The effects of the negotiations with the EU arise only with the implementation of policies. There is usually a strong pressure on local institutions, which is why they tend to “tick the box” by adopting legal and strategic documents, without their actual implementation. And without the implementation, announced changes remain only empty words”, Salustro added.

      Inclusion of CSOs contributes the reform process

      Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Ambassador Peter Burkhard pointed out that Serbia is an important partner within the European security community and that experience shows how encouraging the citizens to actively participate in a constructive dialogue on security issues is crucial for the implementation of reforms.

       

      “Civil society can help to a great extent on the road to the European Union. Serbia should foster open communication and exchange of information between citizens and the police, and promote public and comprehensive debate”, said Burkhard.

      Priorities in the area of freedom, security and justice from the perspective of civil society

      Knowledge and contacts of civil society can help a lot in the reform process on the European path, it was emphasized during the second panel dedicated to the role of CSOs in the negotiations on Chapter 24.

      Sasa Djordjevic, researcher at BCSP, highlighted that the police reform - human resources, operational activities and internal control - is the key reform within the Chapter 24. He pointed out that Serbia needs a police that will answer to citizens’ calls, in order to have trust in the police and feel free to report a crime.

      Police reform implies developing an efficient, effective and accountable police. At the end of the process there police must provide protection to citizens and act professionally, not according to the political moment", said Djordjevic.

      Djordje Krivokapic, from the SHARE Foundation, has singled out cyber crime as one of the three top security threats, aside with terrorism and organized crime and assessed that cooperation in these issues will have to continue after Brexit.

      Information networks are not a classic public space, and the cooperation between the private and public sector is of great importance. Cyber crime already affects citizens and the economy of Serbia, but when citizens become aware of what they should do when their rights are violated, we will know that the system has achieved certain progress ", said Krivokapic.

      Miroslava Jelacic, from Group 484 said that the refugee crisis showed the humanity of  Serbia, and that there may be a functional cooperation between the state and civil society, but also that it is necessary to regulate the area of asylum and migration.

      “There is no comprehensive migration policy in Serbia. Refugee crisis is an irregular state, and certain lessons for the reform of the system should be drawn from it. The aim is to facilitate the fight against irregular migration, as well as the utilization of the economic potential of migration”, said Jelacic.

      Ivana Radovic, from Action Against Human Trafficking (ASTRA), highlighted that CSOs have dealt with the problem of human trafficking before the police itself.

      “Human trafficking also concerns us, since there are many victims from Serbia, and exploitation also happens here. Currently, cooperation between the state and civil society is better than at the beginning, but criticism of systemic failures is still seen as a personal attack, rather than a realistic assessment of the situation. The implementation of reforms in Chapter 24 may finally force a state to always apply the regulations related to the fight against human trafficking", she concluded.

      “Guidebook on EU cooperation in home affairs” developed by the BCSP with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, was also presented at the panel. The guidebook provides a comprehensive overview of cooperation in internal affairs within the EU, as one of the key policies in the context of freedom, security and justice.

      Publication and the panel discussion are a part of the project “Supporting Civil Society Organisations in Monitoring Police Reform in Serbia”, which was financially supported by the OSCE Mission to Serbia. The aim of this initiative is to increase the visibility, knowledge and understanding of the security dimension of European integration.

      Report was translated by BCSP Intern Marija Ignjatijevic.

       
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