J. Joksimović: Serbia has achieved a lot in all segments of society
October 03 2018 | Belgrade
Despite numerous and daily obstacles, Serbia is continuing its path towards the EU and can proudly say that it is a serious country that has achieved a lot in all segments of society, stated Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović today.
“We face a lot of obstacles and daily frustrations, and there are some who do not like seeing Serbia achieving progress, but here is some bad news for all of them - we shall not give up,” Joksimović said at the presentation of the EU’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, which Serbia joined as the first country from the Western Balkans and which will provide access to funds aimed at strengthening and promoting the rights of vulnerable groups.
Joksimović has added that Serbia does not get discouraged by every obstacle on its European path as it has grown tougher and stronger.
“We have long grown tougher and stronger and no obstacle we encounter can discourage us. We are continuing our path because we believe that the citizens of Serbia do not at all fall behind the EU citizens in many segments. We can say proudly that we are a serious country that has achieved a lot in all segments of society and that this has been recognised by many member states,” stated Joksimović.
The Minister has expressed her satisfaction at the fact that Serbia has opened the door to a new EU programme, and assessed it as a programme targeting the most vulnerable population - persons with disabilities, Roma, victims of discrimination, violence etc.
“The EU’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme is a programme where Serbia is treated as an absolute equal to any other EU member state, which shows how diligent we have been in our efforts. The goal is to improve everyone’s position and this may be the best programme in this regard as it targets the most vulnerable groups,” stated Joksimović.
The programme, as she has added, is not part of the IPA funds package, but is a specific programme that deals with a crucial area targeted through Chapter 23, namely a set of fundamental rights that are a genuine indicator that a state is treating all of its citizens in a serious, equal and targeted manner.
The Minister recalled that Serbia has been using IPA funds since 2007, and that until 2014, when she took over the portfolio and became National IPA Coordinator, only under 10% of citizens had been acquainted with the fact that EU funds even existed.
“This demonstrates the inertness of previous governments to inform the citizens of the fact that EU funds are available to them”, noted the Minister.
“Since 2014, we have managed to raise visibility among the widest layers of society regarding the importance of and opportunities that we as a candidate country have through pre-accession reforms relating to various sector policies, but also through cross-border cooperation programmes established to date with seven countries”, said Joksimović.
The Minister has said that it is vital to be aware of the fact that, in the financial perspective for 2014-2020, Serbia will receive slightly more than EUR 1.5 billion in grants through the aforementioned funds. She has added that she has so far signed agreements worth more than EUR 1 billion in assistance.
“Due to our efficient work and use of funds, we have managed to be a credible partner and that is why we have become the first country outside the EU to join the programme,” Joksimović concluded.