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European Commission

MEMO

Belgrade, 18 March 2013

Remarks by Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy to the press after the meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić

''Dobar dan ponovo.

Usually I start my press conferences saying how many times I had visited that particular country so far. But with the intensity of contacts with Serbia, and with you, Prime Minister, I stopped counting.

It is a proof of the very intense cooperation we have with one common objective: Serbia in the EU. One big step towards that goal can come this year – decision of Member States to give Serbia date for the start of the accession negotiations. For that, it is necessary to deliver on the key priority - progress towards a visible and sustainable improvement of relations with Kosovo.

We are looking eagerly at the coming weeks to see further progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, particularly on the sensitive issue of North of Kosovo. We will also look back at all that has been achieved already in the dialogue and on the ground, and how well is Serbia fulfilling the membership criteria. We will report on both to our Member States in the Spring report on 16 April.

Let me underline once again, together with Cathy Ashton we support Serbia's aspirations and we want Serbia to succeed in its European efforts.

But the Spring report will not be the end game. Intensive work needs to continue – and we will assess it through our regular autumn Progress Reports.

During our meeting I appreciate the determination of the government to move things forward in the judicial reform, as well as anti-corruption and anti-discrimination measures. This needs to continue so that the reforms bring concrete results for the citizens. When it comes to important reforms, it is crucial to have sustainable long term strategies and as I keep repeating - quality over speed.

It is also important to base these Strategies on an open public debate and consultations with all stakeholders. For reforms to succeed, you need to pay attention to the input of independent bodies and to ensure sufficient time for the parliament. An effective coordination of bodies in charge will also be necessary.

Today I will also meet the leader of the Democratic Party to discuss the reform efforts, given the opposition has a big role to play in contributing to the EU integration process of the country.

Hvala vam na pažnji.''


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