Serbia applies for EU membership
This afternoon, Serbia submitted a formal application for membership of the EU. Serbian President Boris Tadić handed his country’s application for EU membership to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Stockholm.
Photo: Pawel Flato
Press conference, 22 Dec: Olli Rehn, Fredrik Reinfeldt and Boris Tadić
“I welcome this historic step for Serbia. It reflects the Serbian government’s strong determination and the broad popular support for EU membership. A Serbian membership is important not just for Serbia, but for the region as a whole. This is an important addition to the EU family”, said Fredrik Reinfeldt at a press conference.
“An historic day for my country”
“This is an historic day for my country. It is the tenth year of democratic life, ten years after the end of the war, ten years after the end of our isolation. During these ten years, our main goal has been to bring Serbia into the EU. Now we will continue with the reform work in the hope of becoming a full EU member in a few years’ time”, said Boris Tadić.
In spring 2009, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement on free trade was signed between Serbia and the EU. Since then, the coalition government headed by President Tadić has implemented a series of reforms, for example in the area of justice, and improved the technical cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal where several former political leaders are facing trial following the conflict in the region in the 1990’s.
Key country on the Western Balkans
Olli Rehn, European Commissioner responsible for EU enlargement, also attended the press conference. He noted that Serbia has come a long way over the past ten years:
“I speak on the behalf of the entire European Commission when I say that the Commission is looking forward to working with Serbia. Serbia is a key country on the Western Balkans and we can now see that the whole region is moving closer to the EU. This is important from a peace-keeping point of view and to the future of Europe”, said Mr Rehn.
Now several reforms remain to be implemented on the part of Serbia. Meanwhile, the application will be going through the EU application procedure. The first step is the Council of Ministers adopting a position on whether Serbia qualifies as a candidate country and then tasking the European Commission with commencing negotiations with the candidate country. Asked when a full membership can be considered, European Commissioner Olli Rehn answered that it should happen within the next decade.
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Press Secretary to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
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EditorMinna Frydén Bonnier
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