Successful nations reach agreements

25. August 2018. | Belgrade

Successful nations reach agreements
Addressing the issue of KiM is not an obligation for the sake of the EU - the real question is - if we ceased with the European integration, would we also stop dealing with the issue of Kosovo and Metohija

I am not someone who gives pompous promises and announcements, I do not fall into Euro-depression or Euro-exaltation, because the process of European integration is complex and often led through the mazes of individual interests of certain countries, overall relations and the atmosphere in European politics, as well as in the global world political climate, the Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has said in an interview for Politika.

She has added that, because of this, "a candidate country, such as Serbia currently, has to find the strength to distinguish the essential from the irrelevant - to progress at reasonable and necessary speed towards the main path which directs the country into the development-oriented, structured and still the best infrastructure of the European economic, security and cultural map, rather than running on side roads that do not lead anywhere but towards the dead end of the maze."

- The success of this process depends on us and our will, but also on the EU member states that act upon their own interests, and they are not always uniform or always incentivising for us. Since the progress achieved in the process is measured, inter alia, through the opening of chapters, I want to clarify to the citizens that the decision on opening the chapters is made by the Member States by consensus, while their position also depends on reasons over which the candidate can sometimes have zero influence - Jadranka Joksimović has stressed, and added: "The very fact that we are opening chapters is proof enough that Brussels has accepted that there is continuous progress in our reforms and in the introduction of new standards. There is much work to be done, but when you have something to work on you also have the will, and when you have the will you will also have the result. The EU represents our strategic foreign-policy interest, because I believe that we are doing the right thing for our citizens and society."

The six-month EU Council Presidency has been taken over by Austria from Bulgaria on 1 July. How could this affect the European integration regarding Serbia and what can we expect by the end of the year?

- I expect that, during the Presidency of Austria, which has promoted the enlargement policy as its own priority, the accession process will continue at a pace that, if not intensified, should mirror the one we already have, which is satisfactory in my opinion. I believe that there are realistic conditions for opening at least three chapters by the end of the year, which have been prepared at the technical level: 9 - Financial services, 17 - Economic and monetary union, and 18 - Statistics. At the beginning of the Austrian Presidency, we have submitted to the EU our negotiating position for Chapter 2 - Freedom of movement for workers, and we expect it to enter the procedure in the EU Council soon. In the following period, we will finalize our work on the adoption of negotiating positions for chapters: 4 - Free movement of capital, 14 - Transport policy, and 21 - Trans-European networks, and submit them to the Presidency in autumn. How many of these will actually be opened remains to be seen.

Јадранка Јоксимовић

What is your impression - do the process of European integration of Serbia and the reforms that are being implemented give results?

- Of course. Perhaps this is not always immediately apparent, but in the medium and long term, which is the essence of a responsible policy, the usefulness of the European integration process and the reforms is unquestionable. By fulfilling what was promised, we ensure conditions for a better life of our citizens, creating a modern country integrated into global trends that promotes the goals of sustainable development. You have certainly noticed that there are almost no settlements in Serbia without numerous infrastructure facilities, kindergartens, schools, medical institutions, and roads being built or modernized with the assistance and support of the EU. Also, by using IPA funds - and we annually receive around EUR 200 million in EU grants under pre-accession assistance - we provide conditions for strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law, economic and public administration reform, respect for human and minority rights, promotion of equality, cooperation, achieving sustainable development... The priority of IPA is assisting in the fulfilment of political, economic and other criteria, as well as assisting countries in the process of preparing for the use of enormous EU structural and cohesion funds that are available to new members, which, even if they are reduced in the new multi-annual budgetary perspective of the EU, remain an irreplaceable source for the development of infrastructure, sustainable production, agriculture, environmental protection, new jobs, innovation and creative industries. Newer members have used it extensively, so I see no reason why Serbian citizens would not use them.

In addition to the function of the Minister of European Integration, you are also a member of the SNS Presidency and the international secretary of that party. The responsibilities that you have also include the obligation to deal with topics that are not exclusive to the domain of the executive. What is your view on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, a topic that is currently very important for the future of our country, but also, in the opinion of many, for European integration?

- Serbia has entered the process of dialogue with Pristina, with responsible mediation of the European External Action Service, with a clear intention to start from a position of impossible and blocked understanding of most EU countries and some important global partners for Serbia’s position and reach a position of possible solutions that will not exclusively be to the detriment of our position. It is here that President Vučić has shown understanding of the need to escape from the eternal maze of lamentation over fate and injustice, to break out from this destructive twister of empty words, and through determined resolve, strategic patience accompanied by persistent diplomacy of doing and explaining, but also through implementing what was agreed, to reach the point where our position today has greater credibility, which is based on clear international legal, but also politically sustainable, solutions.

 

You have stressed that the resolution of the status of Kosovo and Metohija and the EU accession process should be observed separately?

- Although many disagree with me, I remain consistent in my opinion that the process of dialogue and finding a solution for KiM is not an obligation for European integration, because let's say we put a hold on the process of European integration - Does this mean that we no longer deal with the topics of KiM and our community, our people, our religious and cultural monuments? Only irresponsible and superficial politicians, that is political hacks, can claim so and offer such ideas. Regarding the role of the EU, we rightfully expect the EU - as a mediator and guarantor of the implementation of the Brussels Agreement, to reinforce and unequivocally underline the obligation to implement everything that has been agreed so far, and here I primarily mean the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities.

Representatives of the opposition have directed a series of comments criticizing the Government, but also President Aleksandar Vučić, most of which refer to the issue of KiM, rejecting the idea of demarcation. The leader of political movement Dveri, Boško Obradović, has recently made an announcement on Twitter, calling for the arrest of the legally and democratically elected President of Serbia...

- The problem of Serbia's political life is the unwillingness of the current opposition to participate in the creation of national unity, through which all successful countries and nations raise their credibility and their capacity to achieve the most important goals of the society. The ideological status of various opposition parties seems to have become an unnecessary burden to them as well, since their basis is grounded on a unified struggle against Vučić and the Serbian Progressive Party that are the bearers of the unequivocal political legitimacy achieved at democratic elections. Of course, I do not dispute the right to a different opinion, but I expect those who advocate the said right to provide a credible solution, instead of unfounded criticism and political intrigues.

There are realistic conditions for opening at least three chapters by the end of the year, which have been prepared at the technical level, and we are also preparing new ones in the meantime

And you believe that they do not have the said solution now?

- It seems to me that they do not have it. Cluelessness, ideological confusion and already proven political staleness are best observed through the hullabaloo of accusations, anathemas, letters and concern for the integrity of the so-called Kosovo on one hand, and worshiping the frozen conflict as an omnipotent political offer. They all had, let me remind the citizens of Serbia, their political time and space to implement their plans. Some of the moves of the current criticizers have gravely been weakening our positions even further. The time of such stories is now behind us, and Vučić is, rightfully and with full legitimacy, looking for new opportunities, in accordance with changed international circumstances and tendencies that exist in the demographic, economic and cultural patterns. Those who do not understand and do not see this can hardly aspire to lead Serbia into a better future.

In your opinion, how are the relations within the ruling coalition? The President of SPS, Ivica Dačić, has recently stated that a part of SNS is working on overthrowing Vučić.

- You know, both SPS and other parties that are part of the ruling majority have accepted the plan and programme of our party on the development and future of the state. As far as Dačić is concerned, I am really glad if he sincerely supports Vučić not only as Serbian President, but also as the president of the Serbian Progressive Party, because this would mean that he is a true coalition partner this time around.

Author: Nikola Belić
Photo: Anđelko Vasiljević
Source: Politika