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J. Joksimović: I expect the EU to restore the pace of the policy of enlargement to the WB

January 12 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: I expect the EU to restore the pace of the policy of enlargement to the WB

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has met today with Tobias Flessenkemper, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, and has expressed hope that the European Commission will manage to restore the pace of the policy of enlargement towards the Western Balkans this year, when, according to her, the COVID-19 crisis is expected to die down.

Joksimović has underlined that Serbia remains highly motivated to continue negotiations under the new methodology as soon as possible.

“The EU proposed the new membership negotiation methodology, among other things, in order to accelerate the process and make it more efficient and credible. Therefore, we expect this new way of conducting accession negotiations to be accompanied by a roadmap, a detailed plan of the implementation of the methodology, which would fully valorise the progress Serbia has so far made”, said the Minister.

Joksimović has emphasised that, in the EU accession process, Serbia, as an active CoE member, has improved the application of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by adopting a special Action Plan for improving the position of national minorities within Chapter 23.

“We believe that EU member states should take those facts into account in assessing Serbia’s progress in the first cluster related to the rule of law”, said the Minister.

She has reiterated that Serbia’s membership in the EU remains the main strategic goal of Serbia’s foreign policy, adding that reforms implemented on that road are an essential part of the internal political agenda.

According to her, the Council of Europe’s support is extremely important for the state, as well as for every single citizen. 

“Modernisation of public administration, more efficient judiciary, reaching a higher level of human rights protection, and stronger democratic norms and standards are some of the results achieved with the help of this international organisation, whose active member Serbia has been for almost 18 years”, said Joksimović.

She has stressed that Serbia actively applies the recommendations of CoE working bodies, the Venice Commission, whose opinion has been fully adopted in the preparation of draft amendments to the Constitution, and GRECO recommendations, some of which refer to constitutional amendments. 

According to her, GRECO recommendations from the fourth round of evaluation regarding the prevention of corruption, which refer to members of parliament, judges and prosecutors, have largely been adopted.

Flessenkemper has conveyed that the Council of Europe will continue to support the strengthening of the rule of law and human rights in Serbia.

He has particularly emphasised Serbia’s active participation in the work of the Council of Europe, noting that, this year when partial relaxation of the health crisis is anticipated, he expects Serbia to additionally contribute to strengthening the role of CoE as an international organisation.

Joksimović and Flessenkemper have agreed that a high level of cooperation has been achieved, as well as excellent results in projects jointly financed by the European Union and the Council of Europe in areas that are particularly important for further progress in Serbia’s accession negotiations.

They have stressed that the most important joint results have been achieved in the fight against white-collar crime, protection of human and minority rights, freedom of expression and media freedom.

The expert assistance provided through these projects enables constant improvement and application of the best standards and practices of CoE in Serbia, as concluded at the meeting.

Source: Tanjug