Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Serbia initials Stabilisation and Association Agreement with European Union

Belgrade/Brussels, Nov 7, 2007 – Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn initialled today in Brussels the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union.
The Serbian delegation at the initialling ceremony was led by Serbian President Boris Tadic, and the delegation also includes Director of the EU Integration Office Tanja Miscevic, Assistant Foreign Minister Milica Delevic and the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister's Advisor for Legal Issues of European Integration Vladimir Todoric.

Rehn said that the EU's decision to initial SAA with Serbia is a result of improved cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was reported by the tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte.

He stressed that full cooperation of Belgrade with ICTY remains the condition for signing the SAA, which is initialled today, two years after the first round of negotiations on that agreement.

The Serbian Deputy Prime Minister said following the initialling ceremony held in Brussels that Belgrade will make all efforts to ensure that the agreement is signed as soon as possible.

According to Djelic, for those who are working on Serbia’s EU integration there will be no rest until the agreement is signed.

Today, on behalf of the Serbian government Djelic handed over Belgrade’s action plan to Rehn according to which it is emphasised that Serbia’s aim is to acquire candidate status by the end of 2008 and also to be included in the White Schengen List.

Djelic said that a new era of relations between Serbia and the EU has begun with the handing over of this action plan to the EU Enlargement Commissioner.

Once political questions are settled we will be able to carry out the process of EU integration at record speed. We have proven our capacity for such work since we managed to conclude negotiations on this agreement within a mere three and a half months whereas other countries needed up to two years, stressed Djelic.

He said that the SAA is the best insurance for domestic and foreign investors, and added that the EU budget for Serbia in 2008 will stand at €190.9 million.

However, as long as we do not acquire candidate status, the most important items on the European budget which regard regional development and agriculture, will not be available to Serbia, said Djelic.

He expressed conviction that Serbia will succeed in realising its goals within a period of just over a year.

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