Brussels, 21 January 2014
President Barroso meets Serbian Prime Minister Dačić
President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso met today with Serbian Prime Minister, Mr Ivica Dačić and First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Aleksandar Vučić, ahead of the first Intergovernmental Conference between the European Union and Serbia.
"Today's Intergovernmental Conference, which opens Serbia's EU accession negotiations, is the start of an entirely new chapter in our relations and a major success", said President Barroso. "I commend Serbia for its reform efforts and for the progress made over the past years. The citizens of Serbia have strong European aspirations, and we will continue to support Serbia to make progress, step by step, on its European path."
President Barroso expressed appreciation for the courageous and consistent efforts made by the Serbian government in the past months in the normalization of relations with Kosovo1 before and after the historic April Agreement. He also underlined the challenges for Serbia ahead on European path in the key areas of rule of law, including the reform of the judiciary, the fight against corruption and against organized crime, public administration reform, independence of key institutions, media freedom, anti-discrimination and protection of minorities.
In line with the June 2013 European Council decision to open accession negotiation with Serbia, the General Affairs Council adopted on 17 December 2013 the negotiating framework for Serbia’s accession negotiations and decided that the first IGC would take place in January 2014.
The Intergovernmental Conference will be opened at 9:00 on 21 January 2014 by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Evangelos Venizelos, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and by Commissioner Štefan Füle on behalf of the European Commission. The Serbian delegation to the IGC will be led by Prime Minister Mr Ivica Dačić and First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Aleksandar Vučić. Accession negotiations with Serbia will be based on the general Negotiating Framework adopted by the Council in December which particularly focuses on the chapters on judiciary and fundamental rights, and on justice, freedom and security, as well as the issue of normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.
This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.