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The EU will not ask of us to recognize Kosovo!

07. April 2018. | Belgrade

The EU will not ask of us to recognize Kosovo!
"Our plan is to align the domestic legislation with the EU acquis by the end of 2021 and, therefore, be ready for membership in technical terms", says Minister J. Joksimović.

 

In the Easter interview for Alo!, the Minister of European Integration and International Secretary of the Serbian Progressive Party, Jadranka Joksimović, talks about Serbia’s further steps towards the EU membership, the problem of Kosovo, and the reconstruction of the Serbian Government.

What does Easter mean for you?

First of all, I would like to use this opportunity to wish happy Easter to the citizens of Serbia who celebrate Orthodox Easter, and to also wish them good health, harmony, peace and well-being, as well as personal and social advancement. Holidays are important, both the state and religious ones, because they carry symbolism for one nation, one state, but also for the mankind as a whole. Easter is a symbol of renewed life, power and vitality of spirit and righteousness, a symbol of a new beginning. I try to spend every holiday, Easter as well, with my family and my loved ones, although it often happens that, due to the nature of my work, I am away on a business trip abroad. But this is the price of my work, and I have come to terms with it. Besides, my loved ones know that I have always been a workaholic, so they do not mind.

How many new open and closed chapters would you dare promise to Serbia until the next Easter?

I do not make promises easily, especially the political ones, because I have to be almost completely convinced that the promises will be upheld. I am always ready to talk about the chapters for whose opening we are technically ready, because it is a part of the work that depends on us and on our results in aligning our legislation with the EU acquis and implementing the necessary reforms. However, the process of European integration is two-sided, and depends on the factors which we cannot influence, and which relate to internal relations and the situation in the EU. At present, Serbia is technically ready to open five Negotiating Chapters - 33 (Financial and budgetary provisions), 9 (Financial services), 13 (Fisheries), 18 (Statistics) and 17 (Economic and monetary policy). All these chapters are fundamentally reform chapters, and they relate to the fields in which the reforms of great importance to our economy are being carried out. Bearing in mind the renewed positive political climate in the EU regarding the enlargement policy, as well as our results and progress in the current course of the negotiation process, we expect the opening of a significant negotiation chapter package in June this year. I think that Serbia has achieved good results in the previous period and that we deserve for them to be acknowledged through the opening of new chapters. Of course, we continue to carry out further necessary reforms within the chapters that we have opened so far, and I believe that, in the next year, several of these chapters will be closed. It is important to do the work, and the results will come.

How much can the recent events in Kosovo affect Serbia's EU path?

We have firmly taken a position of peace, dialogue and searching for compromise solutions, as President Vučić and the Government have been demonstrated by passing through the biggest and hardest of trials and temptations, including the latest scandalous targeted arrest of Marko Đurić. But we cannot do the job on behalf of all others who have obligations in this process. The issue of compromise on Kosovo and Metohija is also the question of responsibility of the EU itself, which provided mediation in achieving the Brussels Agreement, which put its signature on it, and which guarantees its implementation, and, in that sense, this became part of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. That is why I expect a proactive approach and engagement of the EU and its institutions so as to ensure that the Brussels Agreement is efficiently implemented, especially in the part relating to the Community of Serb Municipalities that has not been formed even five years after reaching the agreement. And only then do we get to the issues that are also important for us − property, protection of cultural heritage, human rights, missing persons. The issue of Kosovo and Metohija is also important for regional stability, and therefore for the EU and the Member States. It would be very wrong if our membership negotiations with the EU were primarily tied to the issue of Kosovo. If the EU were to make such a decision, it would be the result of a wrong political assessment and ignoring the progress which Serbia has made in implementing the reforms and meeting the criteria for membership.

We are hearing more and more the theory that the issue of recognition of Kosovo will be waiting for us at the end of the road to the EU - to what extent is this realistic, in your opinion?

The European Union has no uniform position on the status of KiM, with five Member States not recognising Kosovo as an independent state, and there is no indication that they would change their position in the foreseeable future. In that sense, it is not possible to even theoretically imagine a situation in which the EU would ask of us something that not even all of its Member States recognise, and which is in the exclusive competence of the Member States and not the EU as such. On the other hand, our position on the recognition of the so-called Kosovo has been clear from the beginning − there will be no recognition, but a search for a model of sustainable normalisation. You see, everyone is focused on some new, future legally binding agreement on comprehensive normalisation, while forgetting that the Brussels Agreement is also legally binding, with the EU's guarantee. Therefore, let’s go step by step - we, as a serious state, are respecting the arrangements and agreements, and that represents the best protection of our legitimate interests.

J.Joksimovic

Is the goal for Serbia to be ready for EU membership by 2025 still valid or has there been a change in it, too?

The goal has remained the same, and the strategic direction of the Government of Serbia towards the EU has not changed. The Enlargement Strategy published by the EC in February offers the possibility of membership for Serbia and Montenegro by 2025, provided that all the established criteria are met. Although 2025 has been mentioned as a potential timeframe, and therefore not an outlined promise, I think that it is not unrealistic or impossible, especially considering that we and Montenegro have advanced the farthest in the accession negotiations. Our plan is to align the domestic legislation with the EU acquis by the end of 2021 and, therefore, be ready for membership in technical terms. We would use the period up to 2025 to implement the aligned regulations, which is also a criterion for full EU membership. On 1 March, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the third revised version of the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (NPAA), which is an umbrella document that envisages planning towards membership. In addition to alignment of legislation, the NPAA also contains financial, i.e. budgeting planning to enable the efficient implementation of regulations, as well as of provisions on strengthening the administrative capacities within the public administration with a view to implementing the plans.
 

Do you think that the reconstruction of the Government is necessary, and will you support this proposal at the Serbian Progressive Party’s session when the issue comes up for discussion?

At this point, it is clear that demanding and important political topics are on the agenda of our country, and along with this the demanding reform process in many areas. In that sense, it is expected that the reconstruction of the Government is not a priority. When the time comes, I will certainly present my position to the party members, in accordance with the procedure.


You have graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences - who else from your class is at a high position in the country today?

Many of the fellow students, although not from my class, some of whom are older and some younger, perform various important functions today. And that is good - for politicologists to be dealing with politics, public administration and diplomacy.

Source: Alo!