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J. Joksimović: Required that the opening of Cluster 1 be noted

June 24 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Required that the opening of Cluster 1 be noted

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that the largest number of EU representatives at the Intergovernmental Conference in Luxembourg praised Serbia and expressed expectations that the reforms be continued and accelerated. 

Joksimović has sad for the RTS that Serbian delegation in Luxembourg participated at the first political intergovernmental conference where the application of the new methodology was to be established and it was instituted.

“It was noted at the conference, as we had requested as a delegation after the preparatory activities - that the cluster where all chapters had been opened and all opening requirements fulfilled, in this case cluster 1 - that the cluster concerned was already opened”, Joksimović has said.

According to her words, it was good that the Serbian delegation had requested that because it demonstrated that we had both accepted the new methodology and we also wished that at least the key elements of the new methodology be applied at the conference. 

The application of the new methodology on Serbia’s negotiation process started in Luxembourg, Joksimović has said.

“Chapters are grouped into clusters and they are no longer prepared individually but instead they have to be simultaneously and sufficiently prepared. This is a demanding and difficult task and we have demonstrated that we are capable for it and that we have knowledge and skills”, the minister has noted.

As she has said, Serbia has in the meantime prepared cluster 3 - Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth, comprised of eight chapters, and cluster 4 - Green Agenda, Digitalisation and Sustainable Connectivity, which contains 4 chapters.

When asked whether there is sufficient capacity and political will to finalise all that by the end of the year, Joksimović has said that we have already finalised that and that we are ready to open clusters 3 and 4.

“According to the new methodology, political criteria are reinforced and additionally expressed, based on which the countries will decide whether the clusters that we prepared can be opened by the end of the year”, she has said.

She has underlined that political will definitely exists and that she and Prime Minister Brnabić expressed full readiness, commitment and political will of Serbia to continue with the reform process, particularly in the area of the rule of law.

As she has said, the Prime Minister outlined in detail and with arguments everything that had been done in the previous couple of months as regards the rule of law, having in mind that the new methodology requires political steering of the process and political supervision thereof. 

She has pointed out that President Vučić and Prime Minister Brnabić got actively involved in the process, that high-level weekly meetings took part, including those with cluster coordinators who will be responsible for implementation. 

“We analysed the backlogs, received instructions as regards the deadlines for finalisation, and we indeed made significant steps that have been noted.

She has emphasised that Serbian delegation confirmed the political will at the intergovernmental conference, which was received with positive reactions.

Asked about the atmosphere at the intergovernmental conference, Joksimović has said that “the atmosphere is as you make it” and indicated that she and the Prime Minister went to Luxembourg satisfied with what Serbia had done, regardless of the fact that no cluster was opened.

“We have demonstrated our commitment, our readiness to talk, our focus and determination to continue the process. When you go like that, you build the atmosphere. There is no reason whatsoever and I never feel any inferiority. When you raise the level of representation and when a Prime Minister goes to discuss with the EU ministers, that alone demonstrates your openness and readiness to hear the critique and to respond and give a special political tone to the meeting”, Joksimović has said.

Asked whether there was any criticism on the side of the European representatives regarding the fact that no chapter has been opened for one year, Joksimović has said that “no one criticised anyone”, that the atmosphere was good and that the largest number of EU representatives praised Serbia and expressed their expectations that the reforms be continued and accelerated.

“The atmosphere was good and constructive, we have not returned dissatisfied and I think that it is good that Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi and all member states noted that, according to the new methodology, cluster 1 that is a part of the rule of law is actually a criterion for everything else, hence we have the instruments for measuring our progress and the criteria are more clear, which is very important”, Joksimović has said. 

She regretted the fact that Albania and North Macedonia did not start negotiations, estimating that it is in Serbia’s and the region’s interest that these two countries enter the process and start fulfilling the criteria alike Serbia, since that would contribute to regional stability and improved relations. 

Commenting on the fact that Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs required from Serbia “clear answers as regards the missing persons, war crimes processing, acknowledgement of Srebrenica genocide”, Joksimović has said that she wonders how anyone in Serbia can be surprised by that, emphasising that this is not the first nor the last time and it depicts the problems in our bilateral relations that we will need to tackle in the future.

“Everyone should pursue the policy as they see fit; Serbia is pursuing a reliable policy and there is no doubt that our country condemned all horrifying war crimes, indicted to the residual mechanism and the tribunal all war crimes convicts; everyone should wonder whether they have done what they were obliged to.

Joksimović has estimated that it is time to face the future which is, as she has said, challenging for everyone in the region and in Europe. She has added that the post-pandemic crisis will require cooperation as it has been proven that no one can individually overcome the problems and challenges. 

“I would like to have more talks about how we can cooperate. Let them make their list of requests and we will pursue the policy as we think fit and I believe that this will yield results”, she has said.

Asked whether Croatia has the capacity to block our European path, Joksimović has said that in our current phase of negotiations this should not be discussed and that Serbia should focus on its reforms.

Source: Tanjug