"EU to continue support to Serbia's accession"
The EU will continue its strong support to Serbia's European pathway to enable the country to become a full-fledged member as soon as possible.Source: Tanjug
This is according to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who spoke in Belgrade on Sunday.
"Serbia has made major progress in its European integration, and the EU is building an ever-stronger partnership with it," Barroso said at a joint press conference with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in the Palace of Serbia.
"During the meeting, we discussed the reforms that Serbia is undertaking and needs to undertake," Barroso said, adding that Serbia's accession talks are progressing very well.
Screenings for 18 out of 35 negotiation chapters have been opened so far, Barroso said, welcoming the efforts of the Serbian government aimed at strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption and crime, as well as efforts regarding respect of human rights and reforming the state administration.
Speaking about the Belgrade-Priština dialogue, he said that "both sides have demonstrated vision and courage, which has materialized in many agreements."
"Solving these issues is a priority for us and the entire EU believes that both sides need to show responsibility and readiness to implement the agreements reached," the European Commission president said.
Ahead of touring Obrenovac, the hardest-hit by the recent floods, the EU official said he would "speak to citizens and tell them that the EU will continue to support Serbia."
"The EU sees Serbia as a reliable partner and a pillar of stability and cooperation in south-western Balkans," Barroso noted.
Vučić expressed gratitude to Barroso for the assistance and support the EU gave to Serbia concerning the recent catastrophic floods and reiterated that the country's full EU membership is the Serbian government's priority.
Vučić said that Serbia "is aware of the numerous obligations it is expected to live up to and knows that serious economic reforms cannot bring any improvements in just three months' time, as the real benefits can become visible in three years."
Vučić showed a paper to reporters on which the work done well by Serbia is marked by green highlighting, while yellow highlighting is used for the areas which were done relatively well and red marks the sectors tackled rather poorly.
According to the EU assessment, the worst situation is recorded in the area of environmental protection, Vučić said.
Financial control (Chapter 32) is also a sector marked as poorly tackled, as well as Chapters 23 and 24 concerning the judiciary and human rights, agriculture and rural development.
"We need to implement and complete all the reforms if we want to become a European society," Vučić said and underscored that Serbia is seriously and deeply committed to the work which should preserve it on the right track on the EU path and bring it closer to full EU membership.
Vučić noted that "despite political and all other hardships," he still believes that Serbia has a major opportunity to complete the significant task in 2018, after which everything else would be up to the EU.
The Serbian prime minister also said he sent a note of congratulations to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Saturday concerning Albania's success to win the EU candidate status.
Addressing a joint news with Barroso, who will travel to Tirana after Belgrade, Vučić "expressed the belief that he will meet with the Albanian prime minister in the fall."