The Serbian and Italian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Vuk Jeremic and Franco Frattini respectively, voiced their expectation that Serbia will be granted EU candidate status by the year’s end and that the date for commencing the talks will be set.
At a joint press conference, Jeremic and Frattini recalled the report of the Council of Europe special reporter Dick Marty, advocating a serious, independent international investigation into the illicit trade in human organs in order to determine the truth.
The Serbian Minister agreed with Frattini’s assessment that Marty’s allegations must be looked into, adding that he is fully confident that Italy will endorse Serbia in its efforts to launch such an investigation.
Jeremic and Frattini also announced a summit of the Serbian and Italian government in May in Belgrade.
Frattini underlined that Rome endorses Belgrade in the EU integration process and is ready to cooperate to make sure that Serbia is granted EU candidate status by the year’s end and that the date for beginning the talks on EU entry is determined.
He explained that it is in the EU’s interest to give a positive signal to Serbia and other Western Balkan countries, after Croatia’s accession to the EU.
Frattini said that Serbia’s becoming an EU member is a strategic and political interest of both Serbia and the EU.
The acquisition of candidate status depends on the criteria set before all countries that have already joined the Union and those who are yet to access it, and they cannot be altered, Frattini explained.
Italy believes that Serbia must demonstrate full cooperation with the Hague tribunal, which is why the visit of Hague Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz to Belgrade is of great importance.
Frattini observed that progress towards EU integration will be facilitated by Serbia’s cooperation with The Hague, adding that the results in this aspect are improving on a daily basis.
The Italian Minister underlined that Italy will continue to be the biggest advocate of Serbia’s EU integration, adding that the EU is impressed with the short deadline in which Serbia responded to the European Commission Questionnaire.
The bilateral relations between Belgrade and Rome are outstanding, and Italian investors will continue arriving in Serbia, he concluded.