J. Joksimović: Concrete support of Slovakia to Serbia's EU path
March 06 2018 | Belgrade
Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has said that the signing of the Agreement on Improving Cooperation in the Field of European Integration is an indicator that Slovakia is a friend of the EU Enlargement Policy and that it acknowledges Serbia as the most serious candidate for EU membership.
Minister Joksimović has stated that, after the last week's visit by Jean-Claude Juncker and the recent publication of the EU Enlargement Strategy, the perspective and the future of European integration is "tangible" and that Serbia, in this context, highly appreciates the "additional momentum" of Slovakia's support.
She has stressed that Serbia will accelerate the reform processes in many areas in the coming years and that it will strive to open and close all the chapters.
She has thanked Slovakia for the constructive approach of supporting the opening of all the chapters for which Serbia is prepared at the technical level because, as we open as many chapters as possible, the European Commission, and above all the citizens of Serbia, can measure the degree of reforms achieved. "I would like the citizens to understand that opening the chapters is important because it shows that we have reached a certain standard, but that it is only the closing of a chapter that implies the completion of the reform process in a certain area," the Minister has said.
Minister Joksimović has pointed out that chapters 23 and 24 are important for the EU integration process because they represent a condition for opening all other chapters, assessing that a "wrong rhetoric" is present in Serbia regarding these chapters. "I think that we have fallen into a trap of saying how the reforms in these chapters are the single most important thing, as if nothing had been done so far in this field. Serbia has done a lot for its citizens in terms of Chapters 23 and 24, although there is still a lot of work to do," the Minister has underlined.
She has recalled that Serbia, unlike other countries that are negotiating on EU membership, has a special Action Plan for national minorities under Chapter 23 in the adoption of which the representatives of all National Minorities Councils took part, whereby Serbia demonstrates that it considers multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism to be an advantage, not a drawback.
Minister Joksimović has stressed that Chapter 23 does not only refer to constitutional amendments important for the reform of the judiciary as a prerequisite for the rule of law, but also to the fight against corruption, the processing of war crimes, media freedom, and human and minority rights. Chapter 24, according to her, refers to the fight against the organised crime, migration, and to the fight against terrorism.
She has added that the laws on foreigners, asylum and police are under preparation, and that the Media Strategy and the Prosecutorial Strategy are expected to be adopted.
She has recalled that the final round-table discussion on constitutional amendments in the area of judiciary reform has been completed and that the amendments will be sent to the Venice Commission as the most referential institution in terms of reforms in this field.
"I wanted to emphasise, in the presence of Minister Korčok, how much Serbia is committed to establishing the rule of law, which is also reflected in the arrival of many investors in Serbia who are willing to invest in our country. I believe that the commitment of our country will be recognised by the EU Member States and the European Commission, and that we will show in the coming years that we deserved the status of a regional frontrunner in the EU integration process," Joksimović has said.
Acting Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Ivan Korčok has said today that the EU is open to enlargement, but that there are no shortcuts to membership, and that Serbia has to solve all issues, as well as the particularly "sensitive" issue of Belgrade-Pristina relations.
"On behalf of Slovakia, I would like to say that it is up to Serbia to negotiate with Kosovo, and that a solution acceptable to both sides must be found," Korčok has said upon signing the Agreement on Improving Cooperation in the area of European integration with Minister of European Integration of the Republic of Serbia Jadranka Joksimović.
Korčok has said that Slovakia considers Serbia as a very close partner in the Western Balkans, and that good cooperation at the political level should be transferred to the level of economy. He has assessed that his visit to Belgrade was good for two reasons, stating that 2018 could be an excellent year since enlargement is once again in the focus of the EU. "For several years we have been more concerned with our own internal challenges, and now we have Bulgaria assuming the EU Presidency and the Summit of the Western Balkan countries ahead of us, so I notice favourable dynamics," Korčok has said.
He has stressed that the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans confirms that the Member States are committed to the enlargement, and has expressed his belief that each country will find its way that will lead it closer and closer to the EU.
"Serbia is on the right track. I have been listening to what Jadranka was saying and I am aware that you are making progress, and that you know what still remains to be done. It is not news to you when I say that Chapters 23 and 24 are key chapters, so I urge the Government and the National Assembly to work together and achieve as many results as possible," the official of the Slovak Republic has said.
Korčok has invited all actors on Serbian political scene to explain to the citizens what it means to fulfil the conditions and become a member of the EU because, as he has said, it is important to have the majority support of the society regarding the EU membership. "Membership is a complex issue. It's not only a matter of opportunities and benefits, but also of great responsibility. However, with proactive communication you can reach the citizens and tell them what the EU is currently doing in the Western Balkans, as well as that the EU is the biggest investor and the strongest trading partner," the Acting Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic has said.