"Since we are your friends - we owe you the truth"
Minister for European Affairs in the French government Nathalie Loiseau says that the current state of the EU does not allow for new accessions.Source: Tanjug
However, Loiseau added that she thinks Serbia has a European perspective - but stated that the current state of affairs within the Union is such that it does not allow new accessions "under satisfactory conditions".
"France thinks that Serbia has a European perspective, with its history, civilization and destiny, it is a part of Europe," Loiseau, who is visiting Belgrade, said in an interview with Politika. She stressed that Serbia, with Montenegro, is among the countries that made the most progress on the road to the EU, by opening 16 of the 35 (EU accession negotiations) chapters.
"But since we are your friends, we are obligated to tell you the truth: the current state of the European Union does not allow for new accession under satisfactory conditions - both for the sake of the EU itself and for the new states that would join it," Loiseau said. She added that it is necessary to reform the EU and to audit its functioning.
Asked which area was the main challenge for Belgrade in negotiations on accession with Brussels, Loiseau says there were two challenges - strengthening the rule of law and the "necessity of resolving the Kosovo dispute". She added that France and the EU "have long called on Belgrade and Pristina to normalize relations in order to plan together the future of peace and prosperity," stressing that her country supports the EU-led dialogue and is ready to make its full contribution.
"I know how sensitive this is for Serbia and the Serb people. Twenty years have passed since the end of the war in 1999, and it is crucial for future generations to overcome difficulties. I know that President Aleksandar Vucic is busy with that and looking for a compromise through dialogue," the French minister said. As for the current deadlock in negotiations, she noted that the dialogue has no alternative.
"We do not underestimate the difficulties encountered by this dialogue since the end of 2018, nor the tensions that arise from them, everyone should assume their own responsibility. France thus calls on Pristina to abolish without delay the tax of 100 percent that it has decided to impose on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. There can be no dialogue without a minimum of trust between the sides," said Loiseau.
Regarding the strengthening of the rule of law, she said she was aware of the sensitivity of reforms in that area, stating that these reforms require dedicated work, including working with civil society.
"The desire to join the European Union implies that all measures are taken to guarantee, for example, in the letter of law and in practice, the media freedom, the independent judiciary, the protection of personal data, the effective fight against corruption and organized crime. These are the core values of the European Union," said Loiseau.
She added that France is "with Serbia to provide assistance."
"France already does so in several areas, especially in the area of public administration reform," Loiseau stressed.
Asked which is a realistic time for Serbia to join the EU, she said that "it makes no sense to determine a date, as it is not known whether the EU will be ready, and when Serbia will be ready."