The European Union – Western Balkans Summit in Sofia should be viewed as encouragement but it also sent the message that accession to the EU is based on merit, EU Delegation chief in Serbia Sem Fabrizi told N1 on Friday.
“The summit was great for at least three reasons – the leaders of the EU and Western Balkans met to talk about their relations and the future of the region for the first time in 15 years, the second element is the summit declaration which says that there is no doubt about the European perspective of the Western Balkans whose leaders have committed to EU accession and the third reason is the fact that a number of concrete initiatives were announced,” Fabrizi said.
The message from the summit is that accession to the EU is merit-based – if a country implements reforms well, the process goes smoothly, he said. “I think that Serbia is very pragmatic and smart when it sees its future in the EU,” the EU delegation chief said. The EU expansion and accession process brings stability to a region was a source of instability for years, Fabrizi said. “If the region continues to integrate, the road to the EU will be easier. The greater the stability in the region, the greater the possibility of the region joining the EU. The normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations is a key element in all that,” he said.
The EU is committed to aiding the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue but it’s up to the two sides to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, Fabrizi said. “We remain optimistic that a solution will be found. No one wants the frozen conflict situation to remain in place,” he said.
Fabriuzi said that the year 2025 as the possible accession date for Serbia is not an obligation but motivation, adding that no dates were discussed at the summit in Sofia which focused on the goals for accession.
The EU encourages Serbia on its European path but warned that there are areas in which the country has shown only moderate progress, he said and recalled that the latest European Commission progress report said there was no progress on freedom of the media. “That is one of the main reasons why we can say that Serbia has to make more progress,” he said and added that bringing the Western Balkans into the EU is a geo-political investment only if the criteria are met.