EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele hails new future for Serbia

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele has welcomed the prospect of “new relations” with Belgrade, following last week’s adoption of its resolution on Kosovo at the UN General Assembly.

Speaking at a public hearing in the European Parliament on Thursday, Fuele said: “The adopted resolution … is a major step towards a process of dialogue between Belgrade and Kosovo that the EU will support.”

At a hearing entitled: Moving Towards the EU – What Is Expected of Serbia as a Candidate Country? he said the European Commission, EC, stands ready to formally prepare its opinion on Serbia’s application, as soon as the EU Council of Ministers decides it.

“As good neighbourly relations are an essential element of the Stabilisation and Association process, we can also now hope for a new turn in the relations between the EU and Serbia,” he added.

Admitting the road to EU accession was a “long and arduous one”, Fuele said it also entailed new opportunities.

“You must remain fully mobilised and continue to deliver steadily and consistently on reforms, as this will pay off for the preparation of the opinion and its findings,” the commissioner said.

He said Serbia should intensify its efforts on complying with the National Programme on EU integration.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic has admitted his government has been inefficient in proposing laws necessary for Serbia’s European integration.

Serbia’s EU Integration Office said earlier in the week the government had only adopted four out of ten draft laws so far in 2010 as part of the National Programme for Integration, NPI, a document prepared by each country seeking to join the EU.

The commissioner said the EU was preparing a progress report on Serbia that will be published in November.

“I hope to still see significant improvements materialise until the 1st of October, when we close the report,” Fuele said.

“Be assured that, in my capacity, I will join forces with you to foster a new spirit in Serbia and help it make the best for its future,” he concluded.

Serbia officially submitted its application to join the EU on December 22 last year.

On July 24, Serbia sent a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly, two days after the International Court of Justice issued its advisory opinion on Kosovo’s 2008 declaration.

The draft pulled on the UN GA to condemn Kosovo’s declaration of independence but was last week altered under intense pressure from Brussels.

A final version urged talks between Pristina and Belgrade, and was adopted on September 9.

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