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J. Joksimović: Constitutional amendment not only for EU but also for improvement of judiciary

June 07 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Constitutional amendment not only for EU but also for improvement of judiciary

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that the initiative for Constitutional amendment is not a topic that is only important for Serbia’s European Integration, but that it is also an instrument for improving the foundations of a successful and democratic country, which implies an efficient and independent judiciary. 

Joksimović has said that at the Serbian National Assembly session dedicated to the initiative for the amendment to the Constitution of Serbia, responding to the criticism made by MP Šaip Kamberi regarding the constitutional amendment and the speed of Serbia’s European integration.

“European integration is a process that has provided the framework and has served as a catalyst for something that we should incorporate into our legal system, in the area of judiciary regarding the rule of law”, said Joksimović.

She has added that the rule of law also implies the fight against corruption, fight for the freedom of minorities and media, fight against organised crime, handling of war crimes etc.

According to her, the fact that, today, Serbia formally begins the Constitutional amendment speaks to the unambiguous commitment to the rule of law, which will also lead to the acceleration of the process of European integration. 

“We are here for the rule of law, not for European integration, which will be the logical result of the improved rule of law in Serbia”, said the Minister.

Responding to Kamberi’s statement that reforms are the measure for the pace of European integration, Joksimović has said that it should be true in theory, but that it is not so in practice.

As she has explained, that is because geopolitical, geoeconomic and geostrategic interests intertwine as they lead to the transformation of both the candidate country and the EU.

Noting that this was disregarded by previous governments in Serbia, which according to her were irresponsible and only declaratively pro-European, Joksimović has said that the obligation of this Government, which started the negotiations, is to follow the changes in the EU in terms of stricter criteria for candidates and new topics. 

“Our obligation is to show that we are factually committed to the process, that we are empowered, that we understand and see what is going on, and not only to swear by the European path but do nothing in practice”, said Joksimović.

She has recalled that previous governments that swore by the EU adopted a judicial reform in 2009 which not only the European Commission but also experts in the area of judiciary assessed as catastrophic and whose consequences are still felt.

“Since the beginning, we have chosen a sustainable and serious approach to European integration. It may not always be the fastest, but at the same time, a lot of things have happened in the EU that caused the enlargement policy to fall out of focus and lose the support it had from 2007 to 2013, perhaps even 2014”, stated the Minister. 

According to her, they have also applied a serious approach to reforms.

She believes that it is impossible not to take note of how much Serbia proved in 2020 to be a sustainable and economically stable country, without undermining the rule of law, which did not happen in other countries during the year that was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to Kamberi’s remarks on chapter 35, she has recalled that the chapter is not a substitution for the Belgrade–Pristina dialogue, adding that it is intended for monitoring the implementation of the Brussels Agreement.

“I don’t know what was there to be monitored when nothing was fulfilled, above all – the Community of Serb Municipalities (on KiM) was not established, which for you as a Serbian citizen should be extremely important”, said Joksimović to Kamberi.

As regards minority rights, she has said that Serbia fully and committedly implements EU soft law, which includes all joint declarations, resolutions and documents regulating the area of human, minority and fundamental rights.

“In that sense, in the last six-seven years, I have not heard from the EU that Serbia struggles with respecting national minority rights; on the contrary, we have always been commended as a country that is above average European standards in that area”, said Joksimović. 

She has also stated that Serbia is ready to open two clusters – cluster 3 and cluster 4 – adding that whether they will be opened is a matter of the EU’s political decision and readiness to actively start the implementation of the new negotiation methodology.

Source: Tanjug