Serbia: Disagreements about holding EuroPride in Belgrade

Belgrade/Brussels (Tanjug) – The Serbian Government believes that safe conditions cannot be guaranteed at the moment to hold the festival EuroPride 2022, which was supposed to take place in Belgrade in mid-September. According to the president of the European Association of Pride Organizers, Kristine Garina, EuroPride in Belgrade would bring together thousands of LGBTI+ people from all over Europe, Serbia and the wider Western Balkan region. Garina also said that EuroPride will not be canceled, and any attempt to ban it would be a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Serbia ratified as a member of the Council of Europe.

According to the Serbian government, some extremist groups could “use and abuse this event in order to increase tensions and bring instability to Serbia”. In an announcement, the government stated that at this point in time, no safe conditions could be guaranteed to hold EuroPride 2022 “in light of the current political situation in the region, the daily tensions, the safety of all citizens of our country and public order”.

“EuroPride is not canceled, and will not be canceled. During the bidding process for EuroPride 2022, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić promised the full support of the Serbian government for EuroPride in Belgrade, and we expect that promise to be honored,” Garina stated. Brnabić said that the position of the organizers of Pride “is in accordance with the Constitution”, but also warned of possible consequences regarding safety and security. (August 29)

European judges want to tackle EU’s Polish recovery plan approval

Brussels (Belga) – On August 28, four European judges’ associations went to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg seeking to cancel the approval of the Polish recovery plan. The EU member states gave green light to the plan in June, despite ongoing concerns about the independence of the Polish judiciary.

The conditions imposed on Poland by the EU for the payment of European subsidies “fall short of what is required to ensure effective protection of the independence of judges and the judiciary and disregard the judgments of the CJEU on the matter,” the four associations wrote in a statement. The Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ), the European Association of Judges (EAJ), Judges for Judges and Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL) ask the Court to set aside the decision of the member states and prevent the release of funds.

Following a proposal by the European Commission, the European Finance Ministers approved the Polish plan in June. It offers Warsaw the prospect of 35.4 billion euros in EU funds to support the economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. In return, the other member states demanded that the conservative government in Poland mitigated a number of lingering problems related to the independence of the judiciary. (August 28)

Serbia and Kosovo conclude “free movement agreement” to defuse tensions

Brussels (AFP) – According to Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, Serbia and Kosovo reached “an agreement on free movement” between the two countries on August 27, following renewed tensions over border and administrative regulations imposed by Pristina. The agreement does not resolve the issue of license plates of cars belonging to Serbs living in Kosovo. Pristina’s demand to have them exchanged for Kosovan plates had led to an outbreak of violence in July.

After EU-led negotiations, Pristina agreed not to introduce entry/exit documents for people entering Kosovo with a Serbian identity card from September 1, Borrell announced on Twitter, asserting that he had received “guarantees” from Kosovo’s prime minister. In return, Belgrade agreed to abolish entry/exit documents for visitors to Serbia with a Kosovan identity card. (August 27)

Bosnian Minister of Environment Đapo: Environmental protection strategy highly important for our path to the EU

Mostar (FENA) – The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) submitted to the parliamentary procedure the Proposal for the Environmental Protection Strategy 2022-2032. This strategic document for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) covers all major areas of environmental management and protection.

“The federal environmental protection strategy is important for everyone’s health, but also for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ascension to the European Union. It will be part of the comprehensive ESAP BiH strategy for the next decade, and the environment is one of the issues that BiH will negotiate about with the EU in accordance with Chapter 27 on Environment and Climate Change. Our obligation is to implement policies and regulations in accordance with the EU acquis in this area,” explained Federal Minister of Environment and Tourism Edita Đapo.

The entire process of drafting the federal strategy was carried out with the cooperation and participation of more than 300 representatives of relevant ministries, public and other institutions at all levels of government in the FBiH, representatives of the academic community and the non-governmental sector. The public was involved throughout. “Strategic goals are protecting water quality and ensuring the availability of water resources, reducing the amount of waste and increasing the share of reused materials, preserving biological and landscape diversity, adapting to climate change and improving air quality. All this is done in the service of preserving human health and improving well-being and the quality of life in general,” Minister Đapo concluded. (August 25)

Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez: If there is no gas pipeline between Spain and France, there will be interconnection through Italy

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Copyright: EFE/Olivier Hoslet

Bogotá/Santander (EFE) – The head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, showed his “determination” to push ahead with the energy interconnection project between Spain and the rest of the EU through the Pyrenees. He warned France that the interconnection will pass through Italy, if France opposes it. On August 30, Sánchez met with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Germany. The two heads of state have a common interest to promote this gas interconnection. Sánchez will also try to convince French President Emmanuel Macron to overcome his reservations.

At a press conference in Bogotá, Sánchez recalled that the European Commission already recognizes this connection as a priority in its energy plans. He also thanked Scholz for his interest in promoting it. However, he warned that if France maintained its rejection, the Commission had a plan B: an energy interconnection between Spain and Italy. Sánchez acknowledged that while France did unlock some electricity connections, this did not extend to gas. He urges Macron not to be a bottleneck, so that the IIberian Peninsula no longer remains an energy island and may contribute to Europe’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “energy blackmail”.

For his part, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell said in an interview with Efe that the Midcat gas pipeline between Spain and France would help alleviate the EU’s supply problem. He advocated starting construction as soon as possible. “We have to think not only about what that gas pipeline might transport now, but what it can transport in the future. I wish we had done it sooner, but it is better to start today than tomorrow,” he said. (August 24 and 25)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.