Belgrade/Brussels, 21 Jan 2014 – Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic led in Brussels today a Serbian delegation at the First intergovernmental conference between Serbia and the EU, which officially marked the beginning of negotiations on the accession of our country to the EU.
Speaking at a press conference after the First intergovernmental conference, Dacic underlined that historically this is the most important event for Serbia after World War II, and that as of today Serbia is formally part of the process of accession to the joint family of European nations.
He thanked the EU for the assistance it has provided to our country to get to this day, and highlighted the contribution of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, who was a key factor in coming to a compromise in dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and of European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, who worked patiently over the years to create the conditions so that he could write in his report that Serbia deserves to get candidate status and open the negotiations.
This is a strategic goal that determines the way which our society has to take, Dacic declared.
Vucic underlined that today the flag of Serbia is in front of the building of the EU, next to the flags of EU member states, which is a great thing and a symbol for our country, but also the sign that we can do what all other European nations did.
We are ready to fulfil all our obligations. A different and better future is ahead of us, Vucic pointed out, adding that the Serbian government will take all necessary efforts so that citizens live better and it will be very serious in its work, which is a response to the trust placed in us by the EU and to the expectations of the citizens of Serbia.
He voiced hope that Serbia will complete negotiations with the EU by 2018, after which the EU will decide whether Serbia deserves to become a full member.
European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said that the opening of accession negotiations of Serbia with the EU is a historic day both for Serbia and the EU, and that it represents the deserved recognition of the advancement achieved so far.
Fule said that Serbia will have to remain fully committed to the normalisation of relations with Pristina and pointed out that chapters 23 and 24 have to be harmonised with the EU.
I believe in the decisiveness of Serbian society to do this properly because a change is important for Serbian society and economy, Fule said.
Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Evangelos Venizelos, who opened the First intergovernmental conference on behalf of the EU, stated that the Union firmly believes that Serbia will complete the negotiations quickly and successfully and that it will join the EU as a full member.
This is a big day not only for Serbia, but for the entire Western Balkans as well, Venizelos said.
Before the beginning of the intergovernmental conference, the delegation of Serbia was greeted by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso , after which the event officially began.
The Republic of Serbia was represented by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Minister without Portfolio responsible for European Integration Branko Ruzic and Head of the Negotiating Team for Serbia’s Accession to the EU Tanja Miscevic.
The EU was represented by Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Evangelos Venizelos, European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, permanent representatives of the member states in the EU, and foreign ministers of several EU member states that do not have the obligation to attend this meeting, but want to give a greater importance to the beginning of negotiations with Serbia with their presence.
During the meeting, which was ceremonial and lasted between 45 and 60 minutes, two documents were presented.
European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule presented to the Serbian officials the EU Opening Statement for Accession Negotiations - General EU Position, i.e. the so-called negotiating framework.
This working plan, approved by EU top officials, is the plan of negotiations with Serbia in the upcoming years.
Immediately after that, the Opening Statement of the Republic of Serbia at the First Intergovernmental Conference on the Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union was presented.