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J. Joksimović: Too much geopolitics, too little common vision

September 26 2021 | Salzburg

J. Joksimović: Too much geopolitics, too little common vision

There is too much talk about geopolitics in the Western Balkans enlargement process, and the entire process is part of a power game of who will establish domination, instead of being focused on the values of the idea of Europe, which should be peaceful, stable and thus stronger, stressed Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović in Salzburg today.

She has participated in the 17th Salzburg European Summit, where she has met with the European Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn. She has also participated at a forum dedicated to the Western Balkans, where all countries of the region have been invited.

As reported by the Institute of Regions of Europe, the Summit organiser which is supported by the Austrian President and Chancellor and EC President Ursula von der Leyen, Pristina refused to participate because it was represented in a status neutral form.

In that regard, Joksimović has told Tanjug that Pristina’s refusal to participate at this important gathering, which strives to provide an answer to whether the enlargement policy is a “dead end or fast lane” and asks the candidates about the problems and opportunities on the European integration path, has once again demonstrated how completely unconstructive they are.

“I am pleased with the fact that, when Pristina insisted on removing the asterisk from its name, Austrian hosts showed respect to Serbia and consistency regarding the agreement on regional representation of Kosovo with an asterisk”, said the Minister.

Having decided not to attend the Summit, Pristina has confirmed it is completely unwilling even to have an exchange of opinions, not to mention the fact that they are in breach of all agreements, said Joksimović, adding that the Summit has unequivocally recognised that the problem in the Brussels dialogue has not been provoked by the Serbian side.

According to her, the Summit has been an opportunity for Serbia to present everything it has been doing in the reform process, to address the developments in the region, and to stress that Serbia is not stagnant.

“We are not stagnant, reforms in Serbia are not stagnant, the enlargement process is procedurally at a standstill for the entire Balkans”, said Joksimović, stressing that those messages have sparked interest and that the Summit has been an opportunity for Serbia to say what it hopes will happen by the end of the Slovenian presidency and that it believes that significant progress should be made by that time.

“We are ready for two clusters, for the Progress Report in October, but we are aware that there are countries that can say there’s been progress but that they are not inclined towards concrete steps, which is a matter of the EU’s credibility.”

“It is important that everyone now sees, especially the friends of enlargement, including Austria, that nothing specific is happening in the procedural sense, not only with regard to Serbia”, emphasised Joksimović, adding that she has presented to the Summit participants everything that Serbia has undertaken under the new methodology, and that she as the line minister does not feel “an ounce of frustration over something that Serbia has not done”.

She has added that everyone has been included in the reform processes, from the President and the Prime Minister to the ministers, so that Serbia would be ready for the opening of clusters 3 and 4.

According to her, this is the moment that Serbia’s partners recognised as important to see why the process is at a halt.

“We are not at a standstill, we are working, I don’t have the impression that the process is at a standstill in terms of what we are doing, but the process has significantly slowed down, and I truly think it is very important that the topic of the enlargement to the Western Balkans has been launched, both for us and for North Macedonia and Albania”, said the Minister at the Summit, where the organisers and Austrian officials have repeatedly noted that, if no tangible progress is made in the EU integration process, the Western Balkan countries will start looking for alternatives.

Joksimović has also used this opportunity to present the fact that Serbia is one of the few countries, perhaps in entire Europe, that has resiliently faced the pandemic in the economic sense.

“We have shown that, if we were an EU member, we would not be either the poorest or in the worst position, and we have proven that we would be a functional partner”, said Joksimović, stressing that Serbia can be counted on with regard to the migrant crisis and when problems need to be shared.

At today’s Summit, Minister Joksimović has talked with Franz Schausberger, the founder of the Institute of Regions of Europe, with Commissioner Hahn’s advisor, and with Karoline Edtstadler, the Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution, who has reaffirmed Austria’s support to Serbia’s European path and to the realisation of planned steps by the end of the Slovenian presidency.

Source: Tanjug