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European Commission - Statement

Firmly committed to Serbia's EU perspective

20 November 2014

Belgrade

Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, is in Serbia today. On his first official visit to the Western Balkans in his new capacity, Commissioner Hahn is discussing Serbia's reform agenda on the way to EU accession. He will have meetings with the whole politic spectrum, above all President Tomislav Nikolić, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic as well as other Ministers. During his visit he is also meeting the European Integration Committee of the Serbian Parliament, NGOs and IFIs.

In the press conference following the meeting with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić Comissioner Hahn said:

'I am very pleased to be back to Belgrade in my new capacity. My visit to Serbia so early in my new mandate shows the importance the EU attaches to Serbia and demonstrates that enlargement negotiations have the same priority as before.

Prime Minister Vučić and I had a very fruitful discussion. I reassured Prime Minister Vučić about the firmness of EU's commitment to Serbia's European perspective and highlighted that the EU is committed on remaining Serbia's closest partner.

I congratulated PM Vučić on the professionalism and high level of commitment of Serbia throughout the negotiation process.

The Prime Minister and I have discussed the accession negotiations. I emphasised the key lesson learned of past enlargements: the accession process must be transparent and inclusive. Joining the EU is a societal project, which ultimately belongs to the citizens. It is therefore important that all stakeholders, civil society, business community and citizens at large feel ownership about this process and feel associated to the reforms its brings. EU membership is not an endeavour of the few but the ambition of the many.

I welcome the reform priorities of the government to ensure sustainable economic growth as well as the continued attention paid to ensuring the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime and the reform of the judiciary and public administration.

Of course, much work still lies ahead Serbia, which needs to continue delivering on its reforms in a sustainable manner as the pace of negotiations will depend on progress in key areas. Reforms and adaptation of the acquis is not an end in itself. Rather it will help you fully embed even more in your society the European values. At the same time this will create the right conditions for attracting business investment , bring growth and generate jobs for people.

Of course we discussed also well-known sensitive issues in a constructive atmosphere.

But I came here to reassure Prime Minister Vučić that the European Commission stands by Serbia, with our political commitment, technical advice as well as financial support as was demonstrated by our intervention following the dramatic floods that your country suffered. Let me conclude by noting that the European Union is pleased to consider Serbia as a reliable partner and a pillar for the stability and development in the Western Balkan region.'

STATEMENT/14/2004

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