European Western Balkans

S&D Group welcomes the opening of accession negotiations with Serbia

BRUSSELS / STRASBOURG – The S&D Group welcomes the opening of the first EU accession negotiations chapters with Serbia. The Chapter 32 on financial control and Chapter 35 on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo are the first ones to be opened. The S&D Group also welcomes the reinvigoration of the accession talks between the EU and Turkey.
Knut Fleckenstein, vice-president of the S&D Group, said:

“We welcome the continued commitment by Serbia to the European integration process and we are sure that they are clearly ready to open the first chapters in EU accession negotiations after two years following the official launch of the EU accession talks. Besides the two chapters to be opened today, we very much look forward to opening of the Chapters 23 on judiciary and fundamental rights and 24 on justice, freedom and security, which are essential to address the reforms that have to be carried out and implemented in these areas; especially freedom of media and expression and rule of law. Chapter 35 will remain open until the end of Serbia’s EU accession process and will be also a difficult one.

“We also welcome last Friday’s adoption of the 2015 package of pre-accession assistance programmes by the European Commission to support reforms and regional cooperation in countries wishing to join the EU.”

S&D MEP Kati Piri, European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, said:
“Following the EU-Turkey Summit held on 29 November, I welcome the reinvigoration of the accession talks between the EU and Turkey by opening this evening the first chapter (17 on economic and monetary issues) in two years.

“With a new Turkish government, we should use this momentum following the Summit for a fresh start in our relationship, and I hope that important reforms will be made in Turkey – especially in the field of fundamental rights and the rule of law (chapters 23 and 24). As a rapporteur I can only reiterate that the European Parliament has for the past ten years consistently called for the negotiations on these chapters to be opened.

“During my visit to Turkey last week I stressed that now that this momentum has been created, it must also be used to have an honest and frank dialogue on those issues which are of concern to us. The European Commission stressed in its annual report a serious deterioration with regard to the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of speech and the freedom of the media. The recent detention of several journalists, including Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, is very worrying and a reason for growing concern also in the European Parliament.”

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