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European Commission

Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Remarks on the 2012 Progress report on Serbia

European Parliament, plenary debate/ Strasbourg

17 April 2013

President, Honourable Members,

I would like to thank the Rapporteur, Mr Jelko Kacin, for his precise and positive report. It reflects well Serbia's recent achievements and comprehensively lists the challenges to be addressed on Serbia's path to the European Union.

Let me start with two remarks:

First, we have again arrived at a major turning point in our relations with Serbia. I am hopeful that new significant results can be achieved in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The High Representative has convened a meeting with both Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia today. We are very much hopeful that this dialogue will result in a clear agreement. This is in the strategic interests of both Serbia and Kosovo, and of the entire Western Balkans region, as well as of the European Union as a whole. It is time for Serbia and Kosovo to move on from the past and look ahead to a common European future. We hope the two leaderships will seize the historic opportunity that lies before them – in the very interest of their citizens.

This would allow for a positive review of Serbia's progress by the Council at the end of this month, on the basis of the upcoming report from the Commission and the High Representative to be adopted shortly.

Second, I want to emphasise how much we value the courage of the new government in Serbia in agreeing to bold moves in that dialogue so far and explaining them in Serbia. The Prime Ministers have already met 8 times, the Presidents once. We are witnessing a profound change of approach which we need to actively encourage. We also appreciate the recent moves by Serbia to improve relations with its neighbours, notably with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It is equally important that Serbia continues the work on reforms. Since last autumn, we have witnessed a fresh drive on reforms: ministries and institutions are fully mobilised to address the findings of the Commission's Progress Report.

There is a new impetus in the areas of judicial reform, anti-corruption and anti-discrimination as you rightly say in your report.

Let me conclude by underlining that in the light of eroding support in Serbia for the European Union project, it is all the more important to create a new dynamic in our relations. I count on the Serbian leadership to pursue this path with determination.

Thank you.

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