Serbia joining EU by 2020 "ambitious, achievable"

New advisor to the Serbian government Franco Frattini has said that Serbia's EU entry by 2020 is an ambitious, but achievable goal.

Source: Tanjug

"I believe that is an ambitious goal, but possible, on condition that all the difficult work be completed in the right way," Frattini told reporters on Tuesday.

He was commenting on a statement by made by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, who said the three key goals of his ruling Serb Progressive Party (SNS) were economic development, the rule of law and Serbia's becoming an EU member state by 2020.

Frattini noted that experiences of some countries showed that the EU accession could take around six years.

He admitted that after Croatia's entry, the atmosphere in the EU, as far as the EU enlargement process is concerned, "is not unanimously positive", but underscored that the enlargement process will only be completed when the Western Balkans, including Serbia, be a part of the Union.

"I could not possibly imagine that this part of Europe be some sort of enclave easily affected by nationalistic tendencies linked to instability and insecurity for us all," he said.

The European Commission had every reason to say that 2013 is a historic year for Serbia and the entire region, the former Italian foreign minister said, pointing to the signing of "the historic Brussels agreement between Belgrade and Priština, which was unimaginable only a year earlier, as well as many reforms that Serbia has so far carried out."

The membership is not a gift for Serbia, but a result of hard work, he stressed.

Frattini voiced satisfaction about meetings which he had with Serbian officials in Belgrade on Monday and Tuesday, the political will of all relevant government members, primarily Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, preparations for the beginning of EU accession talks.

"It is important that the EU integration process has support from the government, and a majority in the parliament, including the opposition parties, as well as citizens, as Serbia's membership in the EU is the national interest of Serbia and Serbian people," he said.

Asked whether Serbia should accede to NATO before joining the EU, Frattini said that Serbia cooperates with NATO, but that it is in no way linked to Serbia's progress along the EU path.

"Special ties"

Speaking about the reasons why he accepted to take on the position of an adviser to the Serbian government, Franco Frattini stated he did this "as a friend of Serbia and because of his special ties with Aleksandar Vučić."

He said that he will receive no financial compensation for his work and that the Serbian government will cover only the price of his airline tickets.

When asked how he came to know Vučić, Frattini said that their acquaintance dates from the time when he chaired the permanent group of the European People's Party (EPP) for foreign policy.

Frattini said that Vučić's SNS had applied for the position of the permanent observer in EPP, that his talks with Vučić covered the SNS European perspective and the steps which he would take to help Serbia in the forthcoming EU accession talks.

"We understood each other completely and mutual trust was established, which was followed by Vučić's invitation," said Frattini, who previously served as vice president of the European Commission.

Frattini said that the condition for appointment was for him to be able to express his opinion freely in an independent and sincere manner because this is the only way for him to perform his duty efficiently.

He said that he worked for a long time on the progress of the Western Balkans on its EU path and that he always considered Serbia the key country in the region.

Frattini also said that he is not a member of the Serbian government team of advisors and would instead be an advisor of the government as a friend of Serbia.



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