J. Joksimović and Ossowski: Serbia has a clear EU perspective
May 14 2019 | Belgrade
Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has talked with, Thomas Ossowski, Envoy for EU Affairs in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, about Serbia’s activities and cooperation with Germany in the course of EU accession process, about effects of the reforms implemented within the process, situation in the region, bilateral relations and other topics.
Jadranka Joksimović has stated that Serbia is committed to European integration – which is the state’s strategic foreign policy priority, and that it devotes special attention to reforms whose implementation leads to the modernisation, development and progress of the society. She and Thomas Ossowski have particularly emphasised the importance of reforms in the most demanding chapters 23 and 24 – related to the rule of law, adding that progress in these areas is crucial for strengthening democratic standards and values, as well as for the opening of new chapters.
In that sense, the Minister has offered a detailed presentation of all activities from chapters 23 and 24 related to judiciary, fight against crime and corruption, minority rights and media freedoms, which seem to be insufficiently familiar to the EU and Member States. She has expressed expectations that EU’s and Member States’ sources of information will be more comprehensive and systematic in the future, and that assessments regarding the rule of law will be made based on facts and not perception. Talking to Ossowski, she has underlined that, in addition to the importance the EC Progress Report holds for Serbia’s European path, the fact remains that the citizens, who express the greatest interest precisely in the areas related to the rule of law and economy, have highly assessed the work of the Government and the progress in the areas concerned.
Jadranka Joksimović has reiterated that the Government has adopted the Law on Free Legal Aid, the Law on Data Protection, and recently the Law on the Prevention of Corruption, which is completely aligned with GRECO recommendations. She has also stressed that the Media Strategy is being intensively developed and that particular attention is being devoted to solving the cases of attacks on journalists. She has recalled that the Government has accepted and acknowledged all recommendations regarding Constitutional amendments in the field of judiciary provided by the Venice Commission, which has given positive assessment of Serbia’s activities, adding that the Government has conducted a clear and open process of public debate.
The Minister expects that, by the end of Romania’s EU Council presidency, Serbia will open some of the five chapters it has prepared at the technical level. According to her, this would confirm the enlargement policy’s credibility. The Minister also expects that, following the EP elections, a credible EU enlargement policy will retain importance in the EU policy. She has specified that Serbia does not expect to be admitted to the EU tomorrow, but that the most optimistic deadline for accession – 2025, is kept as credible, if everyone – both the EU and Serbia as a candidate, does their part of the work.
Joksimović and Ossowski have agreed that the stability of the region is extremely important and that it reflects on the EU, as well. In this regard, Ossowski has explained that Serbia has a clear perspective in the EU and that it is crucial for the stability and prosperity of the entire region, as well as for realising common European interests. He has stated that Germany encourages and supports both the reforms – which it expects to be completed and applied, and European integration of Serbia, because it contributes to the development of Serbia and the region, which is also in the EU’s interest.
The interlocutors have stressed the importance of Serbia’s participation in the common foreign and security policy – to which Serbia is actively contributing by participating in EU military mission and by being the first country in the region to launch preparations for civilian missions.
The Minister of European Integration has thanked Germany for the assistance and support it has been providing to Serbia in the EU accession process. Namely, Germany is Serbia’s largest bilateral donor – in the past 15 years, it has allocated EUR 1.8 billion in grants for the implementation of numerous projects. Proof that Germany is one of the most important partners is supported by the fact that Thomas Ossowski has had the highest-level reception at the Government during his visit to Serbia.
In addition, Joksimović and Ossowski agree that there is continuous improvement of overall cooperation, primarily political and economic cooperation, that the relations between the two countries are characterised by excellent quality and that intensive and open communication at all levels yields positive results.