Parliament collaboration could foster reconciliation

27/05/2013

Co-operation can help resolve open regional issues and gives education on how to navigate the path to the EU, analysts said.

By Bojana Milovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 27/05/13

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Parliamentary co-operation could help resolve issues from the past to reach reconciliation in the region. [AFP]

Parliamentary co-operation in the region is as an important step towards European integration, as well as a way to resolve issues from the past to reach reconciliation, analysts and officials said.

The mutual exchange of parliamentary experience regarding the laws in the procedure of European integration is invaluable, Meho Omerović, president of the Board for Human and Minority Rights in the Serbian parliament, told SETimes.

Omerovic invited all of the regional parliamentary boards to hold bilateral meetings, the first of which will take place in Zagreb in July.

"I have called all board representatives of regional parliaments dealing with human and minority rights and, to my great satisfaction, received confirmations and invitations from my colleagues in the Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Montenegro," Omerović said.

Serbia will benefit from Croatia's experience on its way to EU, adopting laws and provisions regarding human and minority rights, he added.

"Besides Slovenia, we will have Croatia as yet another former Yugoslav country to become a full member in the EU. We are hoping that it would help us reach our goal, which is full membership in the EU as well."

Omerovic also announced an international conference of the boards for human rights within regional parliaments, which will be held in Belgrade in co-operation with OSCE.

The conference will focus on issues relevant to reconciliation in the region, such as the return of refugees and resolution of rights of property. "All sides are ready to openly discuss these issues; not to sweep them under the carpet, but to really discuss them," Omerovic said.

"When you develop models of co-operation, the Inter-Parliamentary Conference will use the information professionals and institutions on specific issues, such as energy, and encourage the government to co-operate more. In addition, possible co-operation in environmental protection, the fight against corruption and crime," Milorad Pupovac, president of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Croatian parliament, told SETimes.

Kenan Hasipi, the president of the parliamentary group that is in charge of the Macedonian-Turkish parliamentary collaboration, emphasised the political benefits as well.

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The mutual exchange of parliamentary experience regarding the laws in the procedure of European integration is invaluable, one official said. [AFP]

"In these parliamentary collaboration groups, there are members of all parties and also from all communities. With the help of these groups, a so-called parliamentary diplomacy is accomplished, which is very valuable," Hasipi said.

MPs in BiH said that they meet with their counterparts from the region several times a year.

Aleksandra Pandurevic, president of the BiH's Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, said that learning the experiences of the parliaments in the region can boost BiH's legislative sector.

"We have Croatia which is entering in EU this year, Serbia has good legislature and laws, BiH needs to use those experiences in order to improve [its judicial sector] as well as the life of its citizens," Pandurevic told SETimes.

But some MPs said they would like to see the co-operation increase.

"The Balkans are a hot topic. I feel there should be a more efficient collaboration closely related to the realities we experience as members of the European family. Romania has neglected [its] relationship with neighbouring European countries in a way that is damaging both to us and to our European partners," Madalin Voicu, Social Democratic Party deputy, told SETimes.

Analysts agree that the co-operation can only be beneficial.

"In this part of the world, parliaments are not very active actors, usually following the opinion of the majority. But there are examples of fruitful co-operation. For instance, the Romanian parliament and the Moldovan legislature have set up a joint committee in order to help Moldova's European integration effort by transfer of expertise in this respect," Cristian Ghinea, director of the Romanian Centre for European Policies told SETimes.

"Past experience shows that commissions have proved as a good form of co-operation between parliaments. They contribute to increase co-operation between the countries. The more activities they take on, the belter chances for success in resolving certain issues," Stojan Andov, former president of the Macedonian parliament, told SETimes.

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Citizens agree as well.

"Co-operation at this level should encourage people to leave aside their differences. It takes political examples for people to understand dialogue does work and it is the only way to surmount mutual prejudice," Alex Paduraru, a 36-year-old history teacher in Bucharest, told SETimes.

Correspondents Kruno Kartus in Osijek, Drazen Remikovic in Banja Luka, Marina Stojanovska in Skopje, Paul Ciocoiu and Gabriel Petrescu in Bucharest contributed to this report.

What other state institutions can initiate co-operation in order to foster reconciliation in the region? Tell us what you think in the comments.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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