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Brussels, 17 July 2013
Press points by Commissioner Füle following his meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić in Belgrade
•Dóbar dán. Drágo mi je da sam pónovo u Beógradu nákon ódluke Évropskog sáveta o otváranju prégovora. (I am pleased to be in Belgrade again after EC decision to open accession negotiations.)
Serbia has entered the last phase in its relations with the European Union before acquiring full membership.
I wish to warmly congratulate the Serbian government for this:
- Prime Minister, Ivica. You have all our respect for your persistence and drive in the past months, and in the 13 meetings of the dialogue held so far;
- Deputy Prime Minister, Suzana, we do appreciate your tireless and precise efforts to promote Serbia’s European bid across Europe and at home.
- I also want to commend the First Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić, who is not here with us for his capacity to take bold decisions during this process;
These achievements were possible thanks to cross party consensus on key issues. Persistent efforts made by Serbian leaders for over more than a decade kept confirming this strategic choice for Serbia's future as an EU member.
The negotiating process, which is about to start, will last for several years. The European Commission will spare no effort in assisting Serbia to prepare for membership. My presence in Belgrade today is aimed mainly at discussing the next steps with the Serbian leadership.
Next week, we will present the draft negotiating framework to the EU Member States. After their discussion, this framework should be adopted in view of holding the first accession conference with Serbia in January 2014 at the very latest. Until then, the screening will start already in September. And tomorrow, my colleagues will go through the whole negotiation process at a seminar with key Serbian officials.
At the same time, Serbia needs to take some steps as well:
First, establishing the structures necessary for the negotiation process, in particular the appointment of a Chief Negotiator;
Second, continuing to prioritise the European agenda: sustaining the reforms over time, implementing agreements of the dialogue with Pristina, promoting lasting reconciliation in the region.
Serbia has embarked upon an ambitious journey, but I have full trust in the capacity of the Serbian Government and of the Serbian people to deliver on this ambitious goal.