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J. Joksimović: Serbia is not feigning European integration, reforms are real

July 24 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Serbia is not feigning European integration, reforms are real

Serbia is seriously committed to the EU path, as emphasised today by Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, who has added that Serbia is not feigning either its dedication to the European integration process or its commitment to full membership, especially not the reforms related to the accession process.“

On the contrary – we are serious, committed and particularly perseverant on this path, given how unpopular the enlargement policy has been among certain member states over the last three or four years, not specifically because of Serbia, but because of a completely altered structure of challenges and problems that have spread across the global arena as well as in the EU”, stated Joksimović.

She has noted that, during his recent visit to Brussels, President Aleksandar Vučić received very positive signals from the top people in the European Commission regarding Serbia’s future in the EU, naturally, along with expectations that Serbia will accelerate its reforms in certain segments, which, according to her, the Serbian government understands and has promised to Serbian citizens that it will do so.

Commenting on the claims the Vojvodina Research and Analysis Centre made in its analysis saying that Serbia is only feigning European integration, Joksimović has told Tanjug that those who daily accuse the Government and the President of feigning the European path avoid and ignore the fact that the Government officially opened negotiations in 2014.

“We have pursued the European path in a stable and dignified way throughout all these many years of the enlargement policy’s unpopularity and criteria tightening, as the only country that negotiated according to the strictest methodology, based on which we could open the chapters we prepared in any area only if we had previously made progress in chapters 23 and 24 related to the rule of law, and in chapter 35 which covers the monitoring of the implementation of the Brussels Agreement, which is another particularly strenuous condition,” stressed Joksimović.

She has recalled that Serbia has opened 18 chapters, which is more than a half of the total number of negotiation chapters, adding that Serbia has prepared five new negotiating positions, of which some have been waiting to be opened since 2018, further noting that new ones are also being prepared.“What do these self-proclaimed critics think? That we have opened chapters owing to some special affection for Serbia or owing to a series of reform activities and a great amount of work numerous institutions and people dedicated to Serbia’s progress have carried out,” stated Joksimović.

She has emphasised that the reforms have been and are being implemented by the Government and the President in synergy, the same way they have set the European integration path and full EU membership as the key political goal of Serbia.

Joksimović has said that there have been oscillations in the pace of the reforms, as well as delays, but that there have also been oscillations in the EU and certain member states’ interest in enlargement.

“Nonetheless, we have remained diligent, committed and sincere on that path. Those who are now lamenting over Serbia’s European future are the ones who kept the European integration process hostage for over a decade, telling pro-European stories, promising membership in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2011, while their reforms led Serbia to the verge of bankruptcy; they did not manage to break the impasse in the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, while they promised both the possible and the impossible and thus lost the confidence of both the citizens and international partners,” emphasised Joksimović.

She has stated that, in 2014, when she became the Minister of European Integration and National IPA Coordinator, a single-digit percentage of Serbian citizens knew about IPA funds, while they also did know about the effects and the results of those projects.

“Today, the citizens know that the EU is the largest donor, and almost half of the citizens know about an EU-financed project at the local level. So much about who is feigning and who is working and leading Serbia into the EU,” noted the Minister of European Integration.

She has stressed that the 2018 EU credible enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans, which is still in force, recognised Serbia as one of the frontrunners in the process.

She has further stated that she understands all the criticism coming from the EU, which she believes is well-intentioned, as well as criticism coming from the part of the society that has different positions from the Government’s policy.

“Facts are important and not distortions that serve to create arguments for criticism. Statements about Serbia’s backsliding in reforms or on the European path cannot be found in any European Commission’s report; at worst, there have been statements about stagnation in certain areas, which we have seriously reviewed, and we will certainly accelerate the implementation of the reforms that are delayed and we will carry out all recommendations more efficiently,” underlined Joksimović.

She has said that the Serbian Government has never ignored the recommendations of its European partners, and that it has always diligently acted in accordance with all procedures and recommendations that have been the result of an objective overview of the state of play.

Source: Tanjug