EU's new enlargement strategy motivates Serbia to reform faster: officials

The European Union's (EU) new strategy towards the Western Balkans raised mutual expectations between Serbia and the EU, Serbian officials said at a press conference Tuesday, agreeing this offered more motivation for the country to complete all required reforms before 2025.

The participants of the conference held on Tuesday, which included Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Minister for EU integration Jadranka Joksimovic together with the head of the EU delegation to Serbia Sam Fabrizi, agreed the document gives an important opportunity to Western Balkan countries to reform and resolve the issues among them.

"I wish to stress that this gives an opportunity to Serbia, not guarantees -- and it does not automatically mean that we will become a member in 2025, but this is recognition for all our efforts," Brnabic said.

Meanwhile, the strategy adopted on Tuesday by the European Commission in Strasbourg stresses the need for fundamental reforms and good neighborly relations, especially when it comes to Serbia and Montenegro, the only two countries with which the accession talks are already under way.

The document set out six initiatives to strengthen cooperation and the transformation of the region which include rule of law, security and migration, social-economic development, transport and energy connectivity, digital agenda, reconciliation and good neighborly relations, with concrete actions planned for 2018 and 2019.

However, EU high representative Federica Mogherini shattered the dreams of the region saying 2025 was not the aim date for the accession of the region, but just a realistic perspective for the countries aspiring to become members.

Brnabic continued that this puts even more responsibility on Serbia to make use of this opportunity.

Minister of European integration Jadranka Joksimovic said the adopted strategy was one of the strongest political messages that Serbia had received from the EU since it started the process of EU negotiations.

She pointed out that the approximate framework for the accession, with the year 2025 in focus, would be a motivation for the government to work even harder to fulfill the interests of Serbian citizens.

Joksimovic also said the strategy shows that the EU understands it needs more unity, solidarity and democracy so as to be able to accept new member states by 2025, as well as that the strategy does not introduce new conditions to candidates, but merely additionally explains the existing ones.

Serbia became a full candidate in 2012, and opened negotiations in 2014, and is now considered a leading country in the process together with Montenegro.


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