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J. Joksimović: Ursula von der Leyen’s visit – a strong impulse to partnership between Serbia and EU

September 28 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Ursula von der Leyen’s visit – a strong impulse to partnership between Serbia and EU

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović assesses tomorrow’s visit of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as extremely important, as an impulse to the partnership between Serbia and the EU and as a confirmation that the EU has not neglected the Western Balkans in light of global challenges.

“The visit of the President of the European Commission is extremely important for the entire region. For us in Serbia, this is a great and important opportunity to have a discussion at the highest level about all issues, not only about the European integration process but also about the EU enlargement policy, about what this policy is expected to bring for the European Union, on the one hand, and on the other hand, what is expected from us in the process”, Minister Joksimović has told Tanjug.

Joksimović has assessed that the visit is also extremely important given that, in her traditional State of the Union Address, the EC President mentioned the WB and emphasised the importance of partnership and enlargement policy.

“With this visit, she is demonstrating that, in light of all these global challenges – not only the pandemic, but also complicated international relations – the EU has not neglected the Western Balkans. On the contrary, this confirms that we all understand how strategic partnership is important to us in this stage of the negotiations, before we become an EU member, and that we expect this process to gain predictability, credibility, and that what we do in the process is appropriately valorised. That is the only way to truly continue the accession process in a sustainable and meaningful way”, stressed Joksimović.

The Minister has stated that the topics of the visit will also include all other issues regarding the common indivisible health security within the EU, including health policy and fight against the pandemic, as well as its socio-economic effects across Europe.

According to her, one of the topics will also be the reforms in the rule of law area, which has particularly gained importance with the new methodology, although the reforms had always been a condition for any progress.

“I think that another vital topic will be the Belgrade–Pristina dialogue in light of the latest very worrying events and that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić will discuss it with the EC President”, said the Minister.

According to her, the visit will also include a special event that will mark the beginning of the works on the modernisation and rehabilitation of railway Corridor 10 – Belgrade–Niš railway, which will be financed from EU funds.

The Minister has assessed that it is one of the largest and vital infrastructure projects, from the aspect of rail traffic development, not only for Serbia but also for the entire region and Europe, as it is part of the trans-European network, where one of the important sections runs through Serbia.

She has assessed that it is good that the Serbian President initiated that project in conversation with the EC President.

“The project was met with the EC’s approval and I believe that it will be an extraordinary event for Serbia and an important impulse to our relations, not only in terms of European integration but also in terms of partnership with the EU and EU Member States in various areas”, the Minister has told Tanjug.

According to the Minister, Serbia will have a lot of things to present to the EC President, primarily the achievement in the EU accession process, activities in the area of the rule of law and Green Agenda, as well as activities during Serbia’s responsible and resilient response at the beginning of the pandemic and response to its effects in terms of the socio-economic recovery.

She has added that this will be an opportunity to present what Serbia has done in the area of regional cooperation, where it faces numerous challenges, and to express expectations from the EU, which has a role in improving regional cooperation, not only through the process of European integration but also as Serbia’s most important partner in all segments.

“This will be an opportunity to covey our plans, for which we expect greater support from the EU, and also to hear what President Ursula von der Leyen and the EU expect from the Western Balkans and Serbia in the reform process. Also, where we see the possibilities for improving our partner relations that will truly bring progress to the region, to Serbia and our citizens”, said the Minister.

The Minister has emphasised that she also expects a discussion on the Conference on the Future of Europe, in which Serbia is very interested. “The majority of our citizens expect Serbia to become part of the EU and we are very interested in participating in what we see as our future”, said the Minister.

She has added that a lot of topics will be on the table, as the EC President’s two-day visit is an excellent opportunity to discuss all aspects of not only this process but also entire Europe, at the highest level, openly and in good faith.

Source: Tanjug