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J. Joksimović: Serbia can be satisfied with EC Report

November 05 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Serbia can be satisfied with EC Report

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that Serbia can be satisfied with the EC Report on Serbia’s progress in the European integration process, adding that she believes this Report shows that the new methodology does exist and that it is alive.

At the plenary session of the National Convention on the EU, Joksimović has said that the EC Report has shown that the EC and Member States have accepted the application of the new methodology, stressing that they have done so precisely because Serbia made it possible through its work.

“We’ve made this possible for them, because our work enabled the new methodology to be applied to a country that is already negotiating”, said Joksimović.

She has emphasised that with full credibility, supported by material evidence and methodological facts, it can be said that Serbia has made considerable progress in difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic crisis and challenges that have befallen the whole world.

“Maybe the word ‘considerable’ would not be right if the circumstances were regular, but in these circumstances, these assessments reflect if not considerable progress, then considerable enthusiasm and resilience and commitment of the state, society and citizens, of the entire country to pursue the continuation of the reforms that are vital for the democratisation of the society and are important for the process of European integration”, said the Minister.

Joksimović has underlined another challenge Serbia faced in the form of the new methodology’s transitional period, which lasted a year and a half.

Joksimović has noted that the transitional period was not challenging only because the candidate countries were unprepared, but also because the Member States faced a dilemma about its application.

She has added that they needed to find a way to make a distinction between the countries that were already negotiating under the old methodology, which was the case with Montenegro and Serbia, and those countries that had yet to open negotiations – Albania and North Macedonia.

“These were additional challenges for the Government”, said Joksimović, adding that the Government, together with the President, demonstrated a high level of maturity for the process and the change brought on by those circumstances.

She has further underlined that Serbia did not use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to reduce the intensity of the reforms – on the contrary, said the Minister, in the middle of extremely tight circumstances for everyone, Serbia got organised and accepted the new methodology with great resolve.

Joksimović has said that the first step was the establishment of new structures to encompass and implement the criteria of the new methodology, starting from the new mechanism for accession negotiation coordination, redefining all other structures, and stronger political steering of the process particularly in the area of political criteria and rule of law.

“The Prime Minister and the President also got involved in that segment of monitoring the rule of law, which resulted in a more swift and enthusiastic action by all administrative capacities”, said Joksimović.

She has stressed that the reforms have not ceased in the past two years, for it to be the reason why there was no opening of chapters under the old methodology, adding that there was actually a problem with the transitional application.

“The fact that we haven’t opened any chapters in the last two years does not mean that the process stopped for us, it does not mean that we haven’t been working, and that we haven’t prepared a series of negotiating positions for individual chapters under the old methodology and had, at that moment, five prepared negotiation chapters, which are now grouped within three clusters”, stated Joksimović.

Responding to the criticism that certain Report assessments remained on the same level as the previous year, Joksimović has emphasised that that is not true.

“It is not the same, but further progress compared to the one noted in the last year’s Report. This is the logic we use in analysing the Report, and the methodology that the EU and now also the Member States use”, noted Joksimović.

As regards the assessment of the political criteria, Joksimović has said that all areas recorded progress, which is somewhere limited.

She has stated that she has heard that the initial idea was to assess the part concerning judiciary with good progress, but that that did not happen since the process of constitutional amendment has not yet been finalised.

“We don’t see it as a problem, because constitutional amendments are a complex process”, said the Minister.

Joksimović has stated that she is not satisfied with the fact that the part of the Report concerning the prevention of corruption and, particularly, the implementation of GRECO recommendations, did not list all the recommendations that the Government, as well as all institutions, addressed.

She has added that a new GRECO report was sent on 29 October, which listed all activities, and that now a new report is expected.

Source: Tanjug