J. Joksimović: EU is natural choice for Serbia
May 08 2018 | Belgrade
On the occasion of Europe Day, 9 May, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has recalled that the EU was created as a peace project and that the peace has brought its Member States economic prosperity and progress.
Joksimović has said that the Intergovernmental Conference is expected to be held at the end of June during the Bulgarian EU Presidency, when "we could open new negotiation chapters".
"We have already prepared five negotiation positions, and we are working on several more. If you ask me whether we will open all five negotiation chapters, I am not sure, but we do expect to open at least three chapters based on the results of the Report on Serbia's progress and based on the reforms that we have undertaken in the meantime in the field of economy and rule of law," Joksimović has said for Tanjug.
According to her, the opening of new chapters will bring a solid pace to the integration process, and will show how much Serbia is actually on a stable European path.
"This is what the citizens are really weighing - how much progress we achieve in reforms, and whether we fulfil the promises that we have made," Joksimović has said.
She has recalled that Europe Day is celebrated on the same day as Victory Day, and that this is not a coincidence because the EU has emerged as a peace project following destruction and conflicts that had been shaking Europe and its countries for centuries.
"The Europe that emerged from the Second World War, devastated and divided, had the goal of creating a single community of lasting peace among European countries. Therefore, the EU project was initially a peace project, and this project has indeed brought peace for over 60 years. Peace was brought among the Member States, ensuring economic prosperity and progress," Joksimović has said.
She has stressed that this is precisely why countries that did not have the continuity of peace, such as Serbia, are persistently oriented towards the EU, for both economic and security reasons.
"Despite all the challenges that the EU has faced in the meantime, as well as the current challenges it faces, it still is the best place to live and work. And even if there are some misunderstandings among EU countries, there are no insurmountable conflicts," Joksimović has said, adding that the EU has, in this way, retained the basic dimension with which it was created - a project of peace and progress of all countries.
"That is exactly the reason why Serbia is guided by a firm commitment to the process of European integration," the Minister has stressed, recalling that the EU is not only the largest investor but also the largest donor to Serbia.
"By the end of May or in early June, I expect that we will also sign, for the first time, a financial agreement on funds for agricultural development, IPARD funds which will provide EUR 175 million in grants from the EU by 2020," she has said, adding that the IPA 2017 pre-accession funds for general reforms will also be signed.
"The rule of law, environmental protection, justice, transport infrastructure etc. - we are signing these agreements in June, and they will provide around EUR 138 million in grants for these purposes," Joksimović has said.
As she has said, these activities show that Serbia has a clear European perspective, and that, with all the problems it faces, the EU remains the best political, economic and security organization.
"I think that Serbia indeed deserves its place in the EU. It represents our natural environment, with our partners being Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Sweden. Sometimes, people forget that the EU is not an abstract creation, but that it consists of countries with which we cooperate in the economic sense, the countries we travel to, study, and work in," the Minister has said, noting that the message of European integration of Serbia is positive.