After talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Paris, the French President, Emmanuel Macron said that Serbia had no chance of joining the European Union in 2025 unless the Union was reformed by then.
The French president said that Serbia shouldn’t consider 2025 as “an automatic date” for the EU accession.
“I’ve said it before – other states, too, should first take care of the key matters, like reforms. If they make quicker progress in their reforms, the (EU accession) negotiations can be closed,” Macron explained.
Noting that the European project implies the stability of the Balkans, Macron said that it was necessary to ensure common security and added that France respected the sovereignty of all countries in the region.
Vucic agreed that Serbia could not join the EU without resolving the Kosovo issue, and addressing its legal system and the rule of law, not even with Macron’s support.
“Even if Macron says that Serbia could join the EU right now, it will not do so, because we need to solve our problems first. You know I’m not an optimist as to how successful we will be, but I’ll do my best to make it happen,” Vucic said.
Macron said that “the EU reform could be completed by 2025,” adding that “France has made reform proposals referring to the EU budget, defence and strategic issues.”
He added that the EU wasn’t functioning properly because there were many differences between the 28 member states, as their views had drifted apart in the meantime.
“Serbia has won Macron’s support in terms of reaching a compromise with the Albanians in Kosovo, making durable peace possible for all the people in the region,” Vucic said.
The Serbian president went on to say that he had discussed the future of Serbia and the region, as well as the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue with his French counterpart.
Macron added that his country wished to assist Serbia on its way to the European Union, thanking Belgrade for its help “in the security sector and fight against organized crime and illegal migration,” describing Serbia as “a vital partner” in those areas.
“Serbia has played an active role in the EU accession talks, and we want to help the country solve the most sensitive issues along the way,” Macron said.
The French president also noted that he supported the stability of the entire region and individual states, appealing to them not to give in to any foreign threat.
“France and Serbia share the same will to ensure regional stability, individual sovereignty and the capacity of each state of the region not to give in to any foreign influence or disturbance,” Macron said.
Vucic said that they had also discussed the creation of a regional economic area in the Balkans.
“We don’t want to create a new Yugoslavia, but a single economic market. It’s not a replacement for the EU either,” Vucic clarified.
The Serbian president said that the future was the main theme, and that bilateral cooperation was improving, economic ties in particular.
Macron said that the 100th anniversary of the Great War was a reminder that France and Serbia had once fought as allies, adding that Serbian and French soldiers were together again as peacekeepers, in Mali and Lebanon for instance.
This meeting between the two presidents came at an important moment, on the eve of a new round of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels, and according to earlier announcement, Vucic and Macron will discuss bilateral relations, especially economic cooperation, the situation in the region, with particular reference to Brussels dialogue and European integration of Serbia.
On the eve of his departure for Paris, Vucic said he expected much from the talks with Macron. “I think that this meeting is very important for Serbia. We had not had such communication in the previous period between several French presidents and their Serbian counterparts,” the president said.
Vucic also spoke briefly in French and congratulated the French national team for winning the World Cup in football, noting that Serbia got the unofficial tennis world champion on the same day, as Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon.
(Danas, B92, 17.07.2018)
Photo credits: Tanjug / AP
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