Minister Pusic on opening of Serbia’s EU entry talks: “Welcome to negotiations”

Serbia today formally opened European Union accession negotiations at an Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels, which was attended by several foreign ministers as well, given that it is an important event for the region. It is a crucial step forward in the realization of a policy advocated by Croatia, and that is region’s progress through fundamental European reforms towards membership, said First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic after the conference. Asked to predict how long the negotiations would last, the minister said: “It is an arduous, but extremely important period, and I speak from Croatia’s experience when I say that the accession process is just as important as the membership itself because it entails state institution building and reforms, which stabilizes and normalizes the country. It is a long process, but membership de facto makes no sense without it. I cannot say how long it will take Serbia to close the negotiations, we can only guess judging from how long it took Croatia. But each process is special, each accession specific and individual,” said Pusic. It is important that the negotiations are underway, both for Serbia and the region. Croatia’s position has always been that the EU enlargement is a territorial consolidation of sorts, and the completion of that process is important not only for the stability of Europe but for the stability of countries in the region as well, she said. Asked about outstanding issues with Serbia, Pusic said: “We are pleased that Serbia opened the negotiations, that it has chosen that path. Croatia and Serbia have a lot of past issues and they will be resolved, but this is a sign that we have common future topics as well. This does not mean that the past will disappear: we have a number of outstanding and very difficult issues left over from the war and aggression of the ‘90s, but on the other hand we have a clear future commitment and those two things should not be confused,” Pusic underlined.

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