The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, together with Group 484, organised the round table “Parliament and Migration Policy” at the Zira Hotel on 11 July.
Vladimir Petronijević, Executive Director of Group “484”, Sonja Licht, BFPE President and Aleksandra Kalinić, representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Belgrade, spoke about the migration crisis and the current situation in this area in the introductory panel.
Migration is an extremely important issue at the global, regional and national levels. It is highly positioned in the political discourse, as one of the main topics in the election campaigns, but also in everyday political life and parliamentary debates. The issue of migration is also very relevant when it comes to Serbia. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons have been settled here, and Serbia is a country confronted with the global challenge of the refugee-migrant crisis, the issue of readmission, and the departure of young and educated people, as well as people with expert knowledge and skills.
Bearing in mind that migration policy is one of the issues covered in Chapter 24 – Justice, Freedom and Security, and that the European Union is very interested in monitoring the progress of Serbia with regards to that, the main goal of the round table was to discuss possibilities of reform process in the field of migration.
At the second panel, members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia spoke about the above mentioned topics and challenges: MP Vladimir Orlić, MP Nataša Vučković, MP Sanda Rašković Ivić, MP Tatjana Macura, as well as MP Predrag Jelenković. The discussion emphasised the necessity of constructive debate on the topic of migration, through the public hearings and parliamentary sessions. The involvement of civil society as a partner in the reform process was assessed as very important, especially when it comes to controlling the application of legal regulations (expert opinions, joint analyses, suggestions) Ms Sanda Rašković Ivić pointed out that the formation of the executive bodies is very important – the Migration Directorate. In addition, MP Natasa Vučković emphasized the importance of cooperation from cross-sectoral bodies in the Parliament, that would address migration issues, as is the case in comparative practices. The round table participants agreed that the issue of migration must become the issue of local governments too, and that decentralization is crucial for further progress in this area.
The third panel was devoted to parliamentary advocacy initiatives and examples of good practice discussed by Villads Zahle from the European Refugee and Extermination Council, Sander Schaap from the Dutch Refugee Council, and Julia Kranjec from the Peace Studies Center in Zagreb.
One of the conclusions of the round table was that the issue of migration should stay in the focus at all levels of decision-making bodies, with a joint effort in order to achieve the correct implementation of the existed law regulations.
The Round Table was organized as one of the activities of the project Protection of Migrants’ Rights – high on the political agenda (CHANGE), implemented with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Serbia, within the MATRA Programme.