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J. Joksimović: Increased interest of the U.S. in the European integration of our region

November 05 2019 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Increased interest of the U.S. in the European integration of our region

The interest of a major and powerful superpower such as the U.S. in the European integration of the region does not necessarily have to be bad, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has said today, adding that the United States of America recognizes Serbia as the most important country in the region, notwithstanding the fact that it has no aspirations to become a NATO member state.

Commenting on the increased involvement of the U.S. in EU politics, which could also be noted in the statement by Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer that postponing the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania was a historic mistake and a bad message for the region, Joksimović has told Tanjug that increased engagement and rhetoric, but also the presence of U.S. officials in the region, is clearly evident.

She believes that this is not unexpected and that it should not be viewed as necessarily bad, although there are different interpretations of certain issues concerning the specificity of the European path of Serbia.

"However, in terms of the region, I think that the interest of a major and still powerful superpower, such as the U.S., certainly cannot hurt the European aspirations of everyone in the region, and I especially think that this is significant for North Macedonia and Albania, which also have a Euro-Atlantic component, i.e. NATO membership as a goal,” Joksimović has said.

She has added that Serbia, on the other hand, has no Euro-Atlantic aspirations and that our European integration process is primarily about the full EU membership.

"However, the U.S. undoubtedly recognizes Serbia as the most important country in the region in terms of size, economy, and all other parameters, and in this sense I certainly think that the engagement of the U.S. in EU enlargement will have an effect," the Minister has said.

According to her, it is in the interest of the U.S. that the enlargement policy does not get off track.

Stating that there are many different interpretations about how the enlargement policy will survive, if it survives at all, Joksimović has said the following:

"I am sure that it will survive, and I think that the U.S. engagement shows a strong interest in ensuring the survival of the enlargement policy that will include the region and the countries that aspire to full membership."

Concerning specific issues related to Serbia's European path, Joksimović has stated that Palmer's statement in Pristina, that Serbia will not be able to become a full member of the EU until it recognizes Kosovo's independence, has not been entirely correctly transferred.

"It has been said in Pristina that Serbia will not become an EU Member State until it has resolved its relations with the so-called 'Kosovo'," Joksimović has said.

She has recalled that Serbia is conducting membership negotiations with the EU, that it has a clear negotiating framework, and that the negotiating framework clearly states that a comprehensive agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is one of the most important political conditions for EU membership.

"This is neither unknown nor new to us, but the content of this comprehensive agreement should be the result of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which is now completely disrupted, and not by the fault of Belgrade, which is known to everyone," she has said.

As she has further stated, Serbia's interest is to normalize the relations between Belgrade and Pristina, but without pre-determined solutions, such as the recognition of independence, but through a compromise agreement that will be acceptable to both parties.

"We would not even have entered the talks if everything had been determined in advance and if it had already been known what this deal must look like," the Minister has said.

After the elections in self-proclaimed 'Kosovo' and the establishment of the Government, Joksimović expects increased involvement of the EU and all others in order for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to continue, while other topics would be discussed afterwards.

Source: Tanjug