16. September 2017

"More EU chapters could be opened this year"

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and EU Commissioner For Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn met in Belgrade on Friday. They agreed that more chapters in Serbia's EU accession talks could be opened by the end of the year, but that "quality was more important than speed," Beta is reporting. "Progress has been made in the already opened chapters, especially chapters 23 and 24 (rule of law) and I am confident that additional chapters could be opened by the end of the year. The closing of the chapters is a different story," Hahn told a press conference after the meeting. Asked to comment on the assessment of European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker that Serbia could join the EU in 2025, Hahn said that this would mean that accession negotiations should be completed by 2023, because the period between the two steps is generally around two years. He said that "after the opening of the first chapter there was an investment boom" and that companies "started to rush to Serbia," adding that Serbia "has made good progress - but quality is more important than speed." "Every year we provide 200 million grants and we see this as an investment into the country's development, but also in improvement of the situation in the region," the EU official said. Brnabic said that "Serbia i not discouraged by the assessment that it could join the EU only in 2025 because, as EU integration is primarily important for the citizens of Serbia and for the economy." "It would be great to know the date of entry, but it is less important than honestly and substantially implementing the reforms. There are three pillars to the EU: economic strengthening, public administration reform and the rule of law for the same of a more effective judiciary," said Brnabic. She pointed out that joining the EU is a strategic goal and one of Serbia's most important priorities. The prime minister also announced that she would go on her first official visit to Brussels on October 10 and 11, when she will discuss with EU officials the further steps on the path of European integration. Brnabic said that Serbia remains open and committed to dialogue with Kosovo, and that it is good that, with the support of the EU, the dialogue has been brought to the level of presidents, "because it allows for a faster and more efficient dialogue." Hahn welcomed the initiative of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to have the internal dialogue on Kosovo. Hahn said that this initiative shows "leadership and statemaship of the president of Serbia". Asked to comment on the this week's arrest in Kosovo of Serbian Red Cross workers - and why the EU was not reacting - Hahn replied that "precisely this depends on the dialogue, and it is sometimes more effective to solve the problems though 'quiet diplomacy'." When asked by the journalist about the allegations of the Croatian Security Intelligence Agency (SOA) that there was a threat to the security of citizens in Europe, but also "extremism in the southeastern neighborhood," Hahn said that he was "not aware of the figures," but that this is a problem. "Foreign ministers of EU countries have spoken with colleagues from the candidate countries about cooperation. There are access funds designed to address these issues. Security is not only a matter of the EU and the region, it is a wider issue," the EU commissioner said. He added that this is "not something that will disappear in the coming years." The Serbian prime minister said that this was "an indicator that the Western Balkans is important." At:

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