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EU offers Serbia an interim agreement

The European Union offered Serbia an interim agreement to accelerate Serbia's drawing closer to the Union. This conclusion of the General Affairs and External Relations Council was communicated by Slovenian Foreign Minister and GAERC President Dimitrij Rupel, who in this regard emphasised that this agreement proves the Union's unity on Serbia's European future. The Council's conclusion was adopted unanimously. The signing of the agreement is foreseen for 7 February – that is, if Serbia is willing to sign it.

Upon the communication of the conclusion, GAERC President Rupel emphasised that Serbia plays a key role in stabilising the region and encouraging the region's economic and political development. “Serbia's future lies in the European Union. Serbia's drawing closer to the EU is thus crucial, including being granted candidate status as soon as possible,” said Dr Rupel. The EU has indicated its willingness to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement at the earliest possible opportunity.

The interim agreement stipulates measures concerning political dialogue, assistance in strengthening the rule of law, the enhancement of EU-Serbia political contacts, cooperation with Serbia in establishing a market economy, the introduction of free trade between the EU and Serbia, and cooperation in education which would enable a greater number of Serbian students to enrol at universities in the EU Member States within the Erasmus programme.

In order to enhance close cooperation with Serbia during its integration process, the GAERC has established a special task force for monitoring Serbia's approach to the EU, accelerating the implementation of the Thessaloniki Agenda, which is aimed at securing a European future for the Western Balkans, improving Serbia's knowledge of the EU, and, in cooperation with the Serbian authorities and the Hague tribunal, reviewing Serbia's fulfilment of obligations.

Dr Rupel also touched upon other Council conclusions, including the conclusion on establishing dialogue between the Commission and Serbia on visa liberalisation. “Young people need to be able to travel to the EU,” said Dr Rupel. The Commission will thus continue negotiations with all countries in the region.


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Date: 01.02.2008