EU enlargement commissioner visits Belgrade

BELGRADE -- European Union's Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule stated in Belgrade on Monday that Brussels supports Serbia's EU path.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

He underscored that there are three key priorities on that path, including the country's economic recovery and reforms, introduction of rule of law and normalization of relations with Priština.

"A few days ago, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the biggest EU enlargement. And back in 2004, the EU integration of Serbia seemed like a very distant future. Nowadays, it is a very clear prospect, and I'm fully confident that Serbia has the ability to make this prospect a reality rather soon," Fule said.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić said, after the meeting with the commissioner, that Fule is a man who has in the course of his mandate changed the image of Serbia, clearly demonstrating his commitment and support to Serbia in its ambition of becoming a member of the EU and leading the others along the path.

"I do not expect the EU to stop the progress Serbia made in European integration in any way," Nikolić said.

"This is a crucial period of the EU-Serbia relations and also an important chapter in the modern history of Serbia - a new chapter being written, a very European chapter. Serbia has made an impressive progress on its path towards the EU integration. It is very encouraging to see in the last election the Serbian citizens have supported parties with clear and also ambitious commitment to the EU integration," the EU commissioner said.

The EU is fully committed to support to reforms in Serbia and it will step up its technical and expert assistance to this end, he underscored.

The Serbian president said that Fule is a man who performed his duty as the enlargement commissioner at a time when Serbia has approached the EU very much and his reports contributed to a considerable extent to initiation of the talks and opening of the 14th chapter, and perhaps even the 18th chapter in near future.

He said that Fule has come to Serbia to back the government and its program which may be very ambitious and unpopular but which in the few next years aims to liberate Serbia from the mistakes made in the past that left the citizens jobless and bereft of a future for the coming generations.

Nikolić underscored that he is very grateful to Fule for everything he has done and underscored that he does not expect the EU to in any way halt the progress Serbia achieved so far.

Nikolić said that Serbia wishes to access the EU and this will happen when the EU establishes Serbia has met all the criteria.

"I know that by meeting the conditions we will make it possible for citizens to live in a well-organized country, a legal state, equal to the others, but for the time being, I do not feel that we are exactly equal to everyone in the EU," he underscored.

Nikolić said that the EU needs people like the incumbent enlargement commissioner who would come to Serbia without prejudice or warrants the country is strictly required to meet.

"I hope that this is not the last visit during his mandate, and I know that this is not the last good move Fule wants to make so that Serbia could win a place in the EU it rightfully deserves," Nikolić said.

While in Belgrade Fule also met with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, his first deputy and FM Ivica Dačić, and ministers of justice and interior Nikola Selaković and Nebojša Stefanović, to discuss the activities of the two ministries and preparations of Serbia for negotiations on membership in the EU, with a focus on Chapters 23 and 24.

The European commissioner also visited parliament and met with Speaker Maja Gojković and representatives of parliamentary groups.

In an interview with the daily Večernje Novosti ahead of his trip, the EU official said that the new government of Serbia was on the right track for taking the country to the EU.

Announcing his visit to Belgrade, Fule said his arrival would come soon after the visit by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and signified high expectations from the new government.

Real progress in the implementation of the political agreement between Belgrade and Priština is expected for Serbia and Kosovo to progress in EU integration according to their positions, Fule underscored.

He is the second high-ranking EU official to visit Belgrade only days after the formation of the new government.

Ashton was in Belgrade on April 28 for a special visit to express support for Serbia's EU integration and upcoming reforms.