J. Joksimović: Summit in Sofia is focusing on connecting the region, not on enlargement

May 14 2018 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Summit in Sofia is focusing on connecting the region, not on enlargement

Enlargement is not currently popular in the EU, says Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, adding that enlargement is not the main topic on the agenda at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia and that focus is on connecting the region.

She has stressed that Serbia is going to the Sofia Summit, and Pristina will be represented in accordance with the regional representation arrangements - with the name of an individual or with an asterisk, which is a sign of status neutrality.

She has said that she does not expect concrete offer and promises for the region and for Serbia regarding European integration, since enlargement is not the main topic - it is not even officially on the agenda, but connecting of the region is.
"Connectivity is a way to become more competitive on the European market and be a functional part of the EU tomorrow, but the enlargement itself is not on the agenda. The enlargement is not currently popular in the EU. There have been positive moments, when favourable disposition prevailed, resulting in big waves of enlargement, and then there’s a phase when the Member States and the EU are disinterested and self-centred, which is the situation now," said Joksimović.

In her statement for TV Prva, she has further explained that the EU's focus on the Western Balkans has demonstrated how important this region is for them. "We are geographically surrounded by Member States and we are important for the EU, not only in terms of security, but because we have something new to offer," the Minister has emphasised.

She has explained that the enlargement criteria have become more stringent and that today many Member States would not have passed all the tests that the candidate countries must face, adding that it is better for Serbia to be as prepared as possible.

Asked to comment on the fact that the Spanish Prime Minister does not want to sit with Thaçi in Sofia, while Serbia will do so, Joksimović has said that these are two completely different things that should not be confused.

She has said that the Spanish Prime Minister does not want the topic of EU enlargement to include a self-proclaimed country they do not recognize and that this is an internal EU policy. "We are not a Member State, we do not participate in EU decision-making, so there is no reason for us not to be there. Pristina will be represented in accordance with regional representation agreements," the Minister has explained.

She has further explained that it is good for Serbia to participate in all meetings so that its voice would be heard. "Imagine them being there, while we are not, and them voicing opinions and arguments with no one to reply on behalf of Serbia. I always go to all meetings, provided the form of representation is complied with," said Joksimović.

Asked whether the international community is more lenient to Pristina and more stringent to Serbia in these meetings, she has said that Serbia is a country that is counted on more seriously, and that "sometimes bad news may also be a reflexion of being on a good path".

She has recalled that Belgrade has largely fulfilled what it promised, while Pristina has shown that it does not have the capacity to implement obligations from the first framework agreement on the principles of normalisation.
"The countries that have recognized Kosovo, they will not give up on their project easily. But, if the situation were such that everything has been pre-determined, that there is no manoeuvring space, why would anyone be inviting Belgrade to negotiations and dialogue”, stressed the Minister.

Commenting on certain statements that painful measures must be undertaken in resolving the Kosovo issue, she has said that the signing of the Brussels Agreement was also painful.
"Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić is trying to find a sustainable solution in a statesmanlike and responsible manner, while also weighing whether prolongation brings more harm or benefits to the realisation of our legitimate interests," concluded Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug and TV Prva: Morning with Jovana and Srđan