Serbia to join EU "in reasonable time"

BELGRADE -- Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Michael Davenport said Wednesday that Serbia will achieve its goal of joining the EU in a reasonable time.

L-R: Davenport, Valionis, Joksimović (Beta)
L-R: Davenport, Valionis, Joksimović (Beta)

Davenport said that Serbia is close to being offered EU membership and it should derive a lot of benefit from the accession process.

The challenges are many in the Western Balkans, including the ones concerning European integration, but I am confident that the Serbian government is committed to pursuing Serbia’s European path, Davenport said at a meeting at the Serbian parliament discussing 10 years of Lithuania’s achievements in the European integration process.

Davenport said that a recent visit to Belgrade by European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule has confirmed EU’s commitment to further enlargement, as the commissioner pointed to a multiple significance of the process and priorities facing Serbia.

Speaking about benefits of EU membership, Davenport pointed to Lithuania as a success story at economic, social and societal levels.

Lithuania’s former Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis said that Europe needs Serbia and Serbia needs Europe, adding that Serbia’s greatest achievement is its commitment to keeping peace and stability in the region.

"Functional part"

Jadranka Joksimović, Serbia's minister without portfolio responsible for EU integration, has said on Wednesday that the only proper goal for Serbia is to become a functional part of the European Union, and called on its members to back further EU enlargement.

"The EU member states should back the enlargement, as principles and values that it is advocating for contribute to stability, not only of the Western Balkan region, but entire Europe," Joksimović said, opening a roundtable titled "Ten Years in the EU: Lithuanian Achievements in the European Integration Process" in the Serbian parliament.

One must understand that some EU member states did not set the enlargement as a top priority, given the economic crisis, she said, noting that further EU enlargement also entails some benefits.

"These are goals that the new Serbian government set for itself, relating to a high level of productivity, the fight against poverty, education-based economy, environmental protection," she said.

Joksimović stressed that it is the new government's intent to intensify the negotiating process, noting that the screening has been completed for eight chapters.

She underlined the importance of the recent visits by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Speaking about the topic of the roundtable pointing to the positive changes that took place after 10 countries joined the EU in 2004, Joksimović said that was a great success, which encouraged other countries to change the socio-economic concept and adjust to the EU standards.

"In these ten years, regardless of the specificities of experiences of new members, the EU proved to be successful in achieving peace and stability, strengthening the fight against unemployment," Joksimović said, adding that a decade ago the major EU enlargement justified expectations of member countries, but also expectations of countries such as Serbia.