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Djelic: Serbia's goal - EU accession talks next spring

16. June 2011. | 22:09

Source: Tanjug

Expressing hope that EU heads of state and government at the summit in December would choose next spring to start talks with Serbia, Djelic urged the EU to be firm, but just, and not to invent new obstacles to block Serbia's European future.

Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said Thursday in Brussels that Serbia's goal was to start official accession talks with the EU in the spring of 2012.

Expressing hope that EU heads of state and government at the summit in December would choose next spring to start talks with Serbia, Djelic urged the EU to be firm, but just, and not to invent new obstacles to block Serbia's European future.

Djelic reminded that 18 national parliaments had already ratified Serbia's Stabilization and Association Agreement, but that several were still hesitant.

I want to ask for your support in bringing this process to a close by the end of the year, he said.

Djelic expressed hope that the European Commission would give a positive opinion on Serbia's candidacy on October 12 and recommend the start of accession talks, reminding that Serbia worked hard to answer all questions in the Commission's Questionnaire and received six technical missions, whose recommendations it was already starting to implement.

The deputy prime minister said Serbia would continue full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as proven by the arrest of Ratko Mladic.

We want to finish this job as soon as possible. Only truth, justice and individual, and not collective responsibility, can pave the way for a durable reconciliation in the Balkans. We are asking for the same standards for innocent Serb victims, primarily in the case of serious allegations made in the report on illicit trade in human organs which Dick Marty presented to the Council of Europe, Djelic said.

He welcomed EULEX's involvement in an investigation into these claims, but reminded that to date, all war crimes in the former Yugoslavia had been investigated by institutions with a UN Security Council mandate and this case should be no different.

Djelic also told the members of the European Parliament that in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbia was determined to achieve concrete results which would be reflected in the everyday life of the people in Kosovo.

The deputy prime minister also said Serbia was determined to preserve its visa-free travel regime with the EU and reduce the number of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.

We have set up a government commission to monitor the implementation of the visa liberalization and we are consulting with the European Commission on ways we can change our legislation to better prosecute the people behind these asylum seeking groups.We will also limit, without violating human rights, the possibility of travel for those who abuse this system, Djelic said.

Talking about reforms, Djelic informed the European Parliament about the results to date in judiciary reform, the fight against corruption and organized crime, election system reform and restitution.

Djelic also said Serbia would do everything in its power to improve the economic and social situation in the country in the coming period.

The crisis in Serbia is passing, but inflation and unemployment remain high. We expect the real GDP growth will reach three percent this year, primarily thanks to a rise in export, so that a 31 percent growth can be reached in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, Djelic said.

On the other hand, it is good that our budget deficit is around four percent, and public debt at 43 percent of the GDP, he added, reminding Serbia was the only country in Europe which gained ground on the list of international credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's, with its rating going up to BB.

Eduard Kukan, president of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with South-East Europe, said Serbia had proven itself to be on the right track with the adoption of a joint resolution with the EU in the UN General Assembly, and especially now with the arrest of Ratko Mladic.

Serbia wants fair treatment, not privileges

Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said the key message he relayed to the European Parliament on Thursday was that Serbia was not asking for any privileges on its way to EU membership, but that the treatment of Serbia must be just.

My key message to the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee is that it is alright for Europe to be strict, but it is important that it also be fair, Djelic told reporters after a committee meeting in Brussels.

It is very important that its work and achievements give Serbia the chance to reach EU candidate status and get a starting date for accession talks at the December summit, he added.

Serbia does not want any privileges on its European journey, but it asks to be judged on the same criteria as other countries, and if the quality of reforms, cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, regional cooperation, and anti-corruption efforts are all at a satisfactory level, then the country should not only be granted candidate status, but also allowed to start accession talks in the spring of 2012, Djelic noted.

Djelic warned that separating these two issues could result in a one or two year wait, until another consensus could be reached on the general state of affairs in Serbia.

A difficult process and a major battle lie ahead for us, but it is important that we have the support of an important institution like the European Parliament, he said.


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