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Ashton:It is all in Serbia's hands now

18. February 2010. | 22:32

Source: EMportal

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, on Feb. 18 in Belgrade, welcomed Serbia's EU membership application and said it confirmed the country's commitment to European integration.

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, on Feb. 18 in Belgrade, welcomed Serbia's EU membership application and said it confirmed the country's commitment to European integration.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, has stated that she is going to Belgrade to discuss the next steps Serbia intends to make in order to have its candidacy for the EU membership make a progress.

She underscored that Western Balkans is the main priority of the EU's foreign policy. It is a region in which the EU has invested great effort over the past two decades and the region in which we had assumed the biggest responsibility, said Ashton.

We remain committed to the Euro prospects of the region as a whole, but consolidation of stability and progress towards the EU essentially remain in the responsibility of governments and citizens of the region, said Ashton.

"Europe's door will be open for the region countries when the conditions get met, and we are working together with them to achieve that," Ashton said in an interview published by Vecernje Novosti.

She said that consultations among the EU member states on Serbia's applications are in progress, aiming at finding the most suitable moment for decision making. Serbia should now continue to further develop its recent achievements and go forward in its European agenda, which we fully support," said Ashton, adding that the pace of the process depends on Serbia.

In a talk she gave prior to a working meeting with the representatives of civil society organizations, Ashton stressed that cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague was central to Serbia's further progress toward the EU, and said she hoped that the new report by tribunal Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz regarding Serbia's cooperation with that court would be as positive as the previous one.

The EU high representative also welcomed President Boris Tadic's initiative for adopting a resolution on Srebrenica, saying she believed the move would foster reconciliation in the Balkans.

Ashton said that differences surrounding the status of Kosovo should not hinder the solving of current issues.

"Kosovo must be a partner in regional cooperation," Ashton said and added that regardless of diverging opinions among its member countries, the EU as a whole sees Kosovo as a region with a European future.

Baroness Ashton mentioned the European integration of other Western Balkan countries, emphasizing that the future of the entire region was with the EU, but also said that it was necessary for each country to implement reforms individually.

President of the Foreign Ministry Council for Foreign Policy Sonja Liht stated that it is very important that newly appointed High Representative of the EU for FA and SP Catherine Ashton is coming to the region.

In a statement with television B92, Liht evaluated Ashton's visit as very important, because "it is always important to be on the EU's agenda as a country and region."

"Unlike Solana, who did not have his own budget to invest in certain activities, Ashton's function is much stronger, it includes two important functions, that of a head of diplomacy and security policy and that of a vice-president of the EU Commission and she has her own budget," said Liht.

Liht believes that Serbia's role in the EU's new strategy for Kosovo is very big, because Kosovo is a topic that remains on the EU agenda.

"Five EU countries have not and will not recognize independence of Kosovo.The EU as such may not have a unique stand, but this does not mean that it will not have an active role in the attempt to find a solution for this serious problem," said Liht.

Following the working meeting organized by the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence and the Balkan Fund for Democracy, Ashton spoke with President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic.

At a meeting with EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Cvetkovic informed her about Serbia’s progress last year and presented the government’s plans for further steps in the EU integration process.

He said that Ashton’s first visit to Serbia was an opportunity for exchanging opinions concerning problems facing Serbia.

The issue of Kosovo-Metohija, the fight against organised crime and other questions were discussed at the meeting, said the Prime Minister.

He said that he also spoke about Serbia’s economic position and the government’s future plans.

Ashton expressed satisfaction with Serbia’s progress in the EU integration process, stressing that Belgrade is committed to the continuation of reforms.

She said that she is pleased that she had the opportunity to meet with the Serbian Prime Minister and to talk with the ministers not only about Serbia’s European future but also cooperation between Brussels and Belgrade.

The meeting was also attended by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ivica Dacic and Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac.


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