Serbia sets 2018 as "target year for finalization of talks"

BRUSSELS -- The government's Opening Statement says its goal is for the country to be fully prepared to take on the obligations of the EU membership by the end of 2018.

Serbian officials are seen in Brussels on Tuesday (Tanjug)
Serbian officials are seen in Brussels on Tuesday (Tanjug)

This should happen in order for Serbia to join the EU "the beginning of the next EU budgetary period."

The document was presented at the first Serbia-EU intergovernmental conference on Tuesday in Brussels.

In this context, the Opening Statement notes that the European Commission (EC) stated that Serbia will be in a position to take on the obligations of membership in the medium term (i.e. five years) in nearly all fields of acquis.

“The aim of the accession negotiations is the membership of the Republic of Serbia in the European Union with all the rights and obligations stemming from the membership. We expect the negotiations to run smoothly and in good faith, and its results to be mutually beneficial for both Serbia and the EU. We also expect that Serbia's accession to the European Union will protect the vital interests of its citizens,” reads the statement posted on the government's website.

“In the Republic of Serbia, there is a wide social and political consensus of all relevant political actors concerning its future membership in the European Union,” the government said in the Opening Statement, adding that Serbia fully shares EU values and fully accepts EU goals. “The Republic of Serbia wants to be an active and a constructive Member State whose actions will contribute to the realization of the goals and values that the EU is based upon,” states the document.

“Unlike the previous EU candidates negotiating the EU accession, the Republic of Serbia is in a specific situation. In good faith and wishing to find sustainable and long-term solutions, and notwithstanding the complexity of the challenge it is facing, Serbia participates in a high-level dialogue with Priština,” the government said in the document.

“The application of the First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations and the overall normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština largely depend on the results of local elections on Kosovo and Metohija and on the establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities in accordance with the citizens' electoral will,” the document states.

“Fully understanding that the EU accession process and normalization process should run parallel and support one another, Serbia will remain entirely committed to the continuation of the normalization process and its dialogue with Priština,” the government noted in the Opening Statement.