"2020 EU membership depends on Serbia"

BELGRADE -- Serbia has achieved substantial progress on its EU pathway as a result of major political and social changes and the Belgrade-Priština dialogue.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

The country "could become an EU member in 2020," French Ambassador to Serbia Francois-Xavier Deniau has said.

In an interview with Tanjug, Deniau said that the EU accession talks will be based on the merits of Serbia itself, and that their pace will depend on the country's progress in fulfilling the conditions for joining the EU.

Deniau, who has served as ambassador to Belgrade since 2010, said that people are increasingly convinced that the EU is the natural fate of Serbia, and that there are visible results, as confirmed by the EU's decision to open accession talks with Serbia on January 21.

Belgrade has also achieved progress in the ties with Priština by taking reality into account and focusing on specific issues essentially related to protecting the Serb population in Kosovo, Deniau said.

After the 2012 elections, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and the new government decided to raise the dialogue to a higher, political level, Deniau said, adding that this was followed by a fantastic acceleration, the Brussels Agreement and a series of agreements that must be implemented.

Serbia's judiciary must be absolutely depoliticized, and professionalisation is the best way to do this, Deniau said.

He welcomed Serbia's anti-corruption strategy and the political will of the government and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is in charge of this matter.

It is also important that media and journalists can do their job independently, without fear of pressure or reprisals, and be free of influence from the political authorities, Deniau said.

France has Agence France-Presse - it is a public service, which, however, does not prevent it from being an independent agency, he said.

Serbia has very good legal frameworks concerning minorities, and there is no need for any substantial objections in this regard, Deniau said.

The ambassador recalled that an European Commission report has pointed to Serbia's slow economic progress, adding that efforts must be made for Serbia to maximise its benefits from the process of European integrations.

Serbia is facing the danger of the visa-free regime being suspended as a result of increasing numbers of false asylum seekers in EU member states, Deniau said, suggesting that the Serbian authorities should make serious efforts to confront certain individuals and groups and misuses of procedure, as well as to implement tighter border control.