J. Joksimović: Progress recognised, we expect opening of new chapters
April 18 2018 | Belgrade
The EC Report on Serbia’s progress on the EU path is mostly balanced, measured and favourable for Serbia in the sense that no backsliding has been noted in any area, said Serbian Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović.
“It is very important that Serbia hasn’t backslided in any area. In some areas there is greater progress, in others there is less or no progress, but we haven’t backslided, which does not have to be the most important message, but it is good that the pace of positive steps and steps forward is mostly noted in all areas”, said Joksimović at the joint press conference with Head of EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi.
She has added that the Report will be very important for the EU member states regarding the number of chapters they will support for opening at the Intergovernmental Conference in late June, by the end of Bulgarian presidency, and that, in this sense, the Report provides enough strong arguments for member states to accept and support the opening of several chapters.
“I expect more than two opened chapters, which is the only tangible way the citizens can see that we have progressed on the European path”, said Joksimović.
She has noted that the developments that have not been included in the Report due to the time required for the submission of the material will hold great importance for the assessment of the state of the reforms in the rule of law, and those are constitutional amendments sent to the Venice Commission and the Strategy for the prosecution of war crimes adopted on 4 April.
Joksimović has said that the Report assessed economic reforms as good, adding that this is a fact, because macroeconomic stability has been reached, public debt, which is still high, has significantly declined and it will maintain the downward trend until the end of the year, while inflation is controlled.
With regard to the rule of law, Joksimović has stated that some areas record greater progress, some record less and somewhere no progress was noted.
“It has been noted that there has been some progress in the judiciary reform, there is also progress in the fight against corruption, but more work needs to be done there. Progress has also been noted in the fight against organised crime”, she has added.
Regarding freedom of expression, the assessment is that there is no progress, said Joksimović, adding that, given a series of activities related to the media strategy, the Report has noted that there are activities, but that there is no progress.
“We take seriously everything written in the Report, and we will work on it”, the Minister has said.
As regards regional cooperation, Joksimović has emphasised that an important and responsible role of Serbia in the region, in good neighbourly relations and in efforts to preserve stability has been indisputably recognised.
“The part concerning the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is a part which, to our surprise, contains a point noting that there has been progress in the establishment of CSM. Progress has certainly not been achieved, the initiative and willingness to begin writing the statute of CMS in the next four months has been announced, and even this announcement exceeded the timeframe for submitting material, but all right, I have already said and I will reiterate - Serbia does not need any concessions, we need the same criteria and that is the only thing we expect”, said Joksimović.
She has noted that the EU accession process has been long ongoing in Serbia, and that it will still be ongoing for some time.
“We are patient and we understand that it is a process of adaptation of our society and preparation, as well as a necessity, as French President Emmanuel Macron said. I see that we have immediately interpreted his statement as black-and-white, but actually, the EU must also prepare and be better, stronger, more unified, and therefore readier to accept new members”, said Joksimović.