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J. Joksimović: Results in given circumstances good – we can do better

September 20 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Results in given circumstances good – we can do better

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has assessed today that Serbia’s results in the European integration process, which started in 2014, should be better, but she has also stressed that things cannot be observed through a single lens, i.e. only from the aspect of what Serbia has done in the process. 

As she has told RTS, the European integration process should also be observed from the aspect of the developments regarding the enlargement policy and in the EU itself.

Stating that she often hears criticism from those who advocated the European integration process from 2010 to 2014, Joksimović has said that she is not buying those stories, because in 2014, at the starting point of the European integration process, Serbia faced “economic devastation”, a European path that had not been initiated, not only due to the failure to resolve the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, but also due to the failure to implement numerous reforms in the areas of the rule of law, judiciary, fight against corruption etc. 

She has recalled that the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina has always been a political condition for Serbia, saying that Serbia has done a lot in that regard. 

“In 2014, we officially entered the negotiation process and initiated all these things that have led to today’s results,” said Joksimović, adding that she believes the results should be better, but that they are not, due to everything that has happened in the EU itself – migrations, enlargement fatigue and the fact that many countries that joined the EU in the meantime did not fully meet the criteria.

She has emphasised that some of the countries that became members in the past 20 years were not at the same advanced stage as Serbia, which has opened more than a half of the chapters and which, if it were a member, would not be the poorest one or have the largest problems regarding the political criteria and the rule of law.

“I think the results are good, but it is not enough, we have to do better. If you want to stay where you are, you must run as much as you can, but if you want to get someplace, you have to run twice as fast,” noted Joksimović.

Asked why Serbia has not yet opened any of the five chapters it has prepared this year, Joksimović has stressed that the year is not over yet, recalling that two intergovernmental conferences are held per year, where a decision on the opening of chapters is made, adding that the second one will be held in December.

“We did not open new chapters in June, but there is still December. Germany has taken over the six-month EU presidency, and we have five prepared chapters waiting to be opened,” stated the Minister.

She has recalled that the chapters ready to be opened are Chapter 2 –Freedom of movement for workers, Chapter 3 – Right of establishment and freedom to provide services, Chapter 14 – Transport, Chapter 21 – Trans-European networks, and Chapter 27 – Environment and climate change.

“We have done everything in the procedural sense and prepared chapters for opening,” said Joksimović.

She also believes that if Serbia were to open new chapters by the end of the year, it would do so under the old methodology, because, even though Serbia has accepted to negotiate under the new methodology, it is still not possible as the European Commission has not yet developed a clear roadmap for its implementation.

Minister Joksimović has stressed that, since the beginning, Serbia has been negotiating under the strictest criteria compared to any other country, adding that Serbia has never complained about that.

“We have never complained about that, because the experiences from the previous enlargements that were not functional for the EU have yielded this approach where chapters related to reform areas that you are prepared for will not be opened if there is no progress in the rule of law and, in our case, in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina – two completely political conditions,” said the Minister.

Joksimović has stressed that Serbia’s goal is to be a respectable partner to the EU from the first moment it becomes a member state, noting that even now, as an acceding country, Serbia is a respectable partner.

“We have proven that we have done a lot even regarding the political criteria, but there is still plenty more work to be done, judiciary has to be reformed, fight against corruption etc.,” stated Joksimović.

As regards the fight against corruption, Joksimović has recalled that the Law on the Prevention of Corruption was adopted on 1 September and that an Action Plan for the implementation of the Media Strategy was developed in May.

In addition, the EU has received the revised action plans for chapters 23 and 24, known as the chapters on the rule of law.

“We have already done a whole series of activities, the adoption of constitutional amendments is next on the agenda, as soon as the new parliament and the new government are formed,” concluded Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug