EC official on genocide suits, integration

Head of the European Commission Delegation to Serbia Vincent Degert spoke about the genocide suits filed by Serbia and Croatia.

“It is up to every country individually to see how it wants to lead this process. We will encourage both countries to talk about that question, to establish dialogue again,” Degert said.

He added that as war as war crimes are concerned, the EU insists on the individualization of crimes and “will not back down from that.”

According to the EC official, good neighborly and regional relations, especially when new enlargements are concerned, are the key goal of the EU.

“When you have cases of lawsuits being filed between two countries, that means that the goals are not functioning very well,” Degert said.

Croatia filed a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice in 1999 accusing Serbia of having committed genocide, and Serbia filed a countersuit on January 4, 2010 against Croatia accusing it of the same crime committed in the same period – the first half of the 1990s.

“Lisbon agreement brought changes”

Degert, who was joined by Spanish Ambassador Inigo de Palacio Espana during the news conference in Belgrade today, said that the Lisbon agreement taking power has brought many institutional changes that were prerequisites for further enlargement, which was significant for Serbia and the rest of the Western Balkans.

“All these changes have already reflected on relations between the EU and Serbia. The first visible sign of this is the visa liberalization at the end of last year, but I think that it had much more of an effect on the great support of Serbian citizens for EU integration,” Degert said.

He added that it was a great challenge for the EU to see the next steps in Serbia’s application for EU candidate status, which it submitted at the end of 2009.

The Spanish ambassador said that one of the priorities of the Spanish EU presidency is to encourage the European integration process in the Western Balkans.

“The countries that have been the last to submit applications for EU membership will be in the focus of our attention – Serbia, Montenegro and Albania, and our goal is to not have any of these countries left behind, especially not Serbia,” Espana said

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