Serbia welcomes EP ratification of SAA
Ratifying Serbia's Stabilisation and Association Agreement is an important step towards eventual EU membership.
(Blic, Danas, The Sofia Echo - 20/01/11; DPA, AKI, AFP, Xinhua, Beta, B92, Tanjug, New Kosova Report, Focus News Agency, European Parliament - 19/01/11)
The European Parliament voted on Wednesday (January 19th) in Strasbourg. [Reuters]
"The EP ratified the SAA with an overwhelming majority of 90%, which is a great success for our citizens and our country, as the vote shows the great support our country enjoys in the EU," Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Bozidar Djelic said. "The fact that all countries and all political groups voted in favour of ratification shows the unequivocal support for future steps on our European path."
The accord will open up trade between Serbia and the 27-member bloc once it enters into force. For that to happen it needs to be ratified not only by the EP, but by each of the EU states as well.
The SAA, which will also give Serbia access to increased pre-accession assistance, was signed in April 2008, but the EU ratification procedure was not launched until June of last year. Since then, 11 of the 27 member states have completed the process.
Echoing a call by the EP for the remaining 16 nations to "swiftly proceed with the ratification procedure", Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic voiced hope Wednesday that they will be encouraged by the EU lawmakers' move to do so in the coming months.
Serbia submitted its official application for EU entry in December 2009 and hopes to gain formal recognition as a candidate for membership by the end of this year.
Stressing the importance of Wednesday's move for their country's EU bid, Belgrade officials viewed it as encouraging further reform efforts.
"Of the many steps that await us on the road to the EU, this is an exceptionally important one," Belgrade-based B92 quoted Milica Delevic, the head of the Serbian government's EU Integration Office, as saying....
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