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J. Joksimović: I expect an important step forward by the end of the year

October 08 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: I expect an important step forward by the end of the year

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that she expects that Serbia will make an important step forward in the European integration process by the end of the Slovenian presidency.

“I expect that Serbia will make an important step forward in the process by the end of the Slovenian presidency, and as regards the Summit, I think that positive assessments about Serbia also prevailed at the Summit, with high expectations of our accelerated reforms”, said Joksimović for RTS.

Speaking about the Progress Report, she has said that it will be published around 20 October and that she expects it to credibly and factually note everything Serbia has done.

“And we have done a lot in the rule of law area, where the focus will be placed on judiciary, constitutional amendments, fight against corruption, fight against organised crime, media strategy, and overall, on the freedoms in society that are particularly emphasised”, said the Minister of European Integration.

She has explained that Serbia has met all opening benchmarks for two clusters, Cluster 3 – Inclusive growth and competitiveness, and Cluster 4 – Green Agenda, digitalisation and sustainable connectivity.

“I expect this report to note everything that we have accomplished, Serbia’s full preparedness and active approach to the methodology – direct and stronger involvement of the President, the Prime Minister and all line ministries in the process, which is one of the requirements of the new methodology”, stressed Joksimović, adding that that must be valorised.

Speaking about the results of the EU–Western Balkans Summit, she has underlined that, with this pace of the reforms and empowerment of the EU, there is a clear vision that Serbia can become an EU member.

Joksimović has also mentioned that the Summit sent positive signals and that in a way it became a mandatory future event owing to the Declaration, given that EU presiding countries that are interested in the topic of enlargement, such as Slovenia at the moment, have started to organise these summits.

She has added that the Summit has not been organised every year as a rule, but that it is an important gathering of all 27 heads of EU states or governments and everyone from the Western Balkans.

“We were represented by President Aleksandar Vučić. Although there wasn’t any concrete achievement, what is important is that we defined a number of steps in the European integration process. It is a process that runs at its own pace”, said the Minister.

According to her, despite the current COVID-19 crisis, migrant and energy crisis, which Vučić proposed as a topic of interest both for us and for the entire Western Balkans and Europe as a whole, the Summit has shown that the EU is still capable of demonstrating that kind of leadership and vision, where the EU heads of state or government were talking about the Western Balkans for four hours, as well as about relations with the EU, future of the enlargement process and common challenges and ways to become stronger and more resilient.

“This is good both for the EU and for us from the Western Balkans, and the EU demonstrated leadership that had been lacking for so long in terms of the common vision of the future, because we live very close to each other, those are three-hour flights to the farthest destination in the EU”, said the Minister.

According to her, this is a positive signal, and although some countries wanted to talk about partnership rather than enlargement, this idea of enlargement was not neglected.

“There are always countries that are sceptics, that is nothing new, for Serbia as well. There are countries – it is inappropriate for me as the Minister of European Integration to name them. We all know which countries they are, and they are traditionally sceptical towards the enlargement policy”, said Joksimović.

She has said that their idea was to talk about partnership and the ways of cooperation, and not only about the enlargement policy.

“We cannot talk about our relations with the EU without talking about the enlargement policy, because all of us in the region are in different stages of the integration process. Serbia and Montenegro are in an advanced stage, North Macedonia and Albania are waiting for the opening of negotiations, which is a deep and highly political issue”, said the Minister.

“For us, it is a strategic commitment and a reform course, and how can we then not talk about enlargement; the enlargement policy was confirmed as important, as was the fact that the Western Balkans is oriented towards the EU, but also that the EU will simultaneously work on strengthening its capacities for enlargement, which was not represented as a condition, but as a parallel process, which is fine”, noted the Minister.

She has said that the media have wrongly interpreted the timeframe for EU accession.

“The 2030 timeframe, which was not accepted, would not refer to the Western Balkans as a package – there is no package, the new methodology is clear about the fact that every country will progress as much as it progresses in the reform process”, stressed Joksimović.

“I absolutely don’t have this kind of diplomatically required modesty to say that Serbia is a frontrunner in many areas that are important for European integration, in the political and economic criteria and the resilience that is required”, said Joksimović.

“This idea of the package, that wasn’t the idea – the idea was that everyone from the Western Balkans joins sooner or later, with 2030 as the final deadline.

I have to remember everything and know everything about the foundations of the EU, which are its documents; in 2018, Jean-Claude Juncker came here and presented the Credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans, which mentioned the year 2025 for Serbia and Montenegro”, said the Minister.

She has emphasised that those documents were not a promise, but that if WB countries do their part of the job and if the EU is ready, there may be a possibility of accession.

“I wouldn’t talk about years that much, our citizens have heard over and over again from some irresponsible governments that we would become a member in 2007, 2009, 2010. We are not bidding on years. I am convinced that, in the next few years, with this pace of our reforms and the empowerment of the EU itself, there is a clear vision that we can become a member, this idea is good both for us and for the EU”, said Minister Joksimović.

Source: Tanjug