Serbia/Mladic arrest – Croatia/EU – EU enlargement
Q. – Brussels hails “a historic gesture”, Nicolas Sarkozy “another step towards integration”. What are the consequences for Serbia of Ratko Mladic’s arrest?
THE MINISTER – This arrest reminds us of Europe’s prime function: to ensure peace on the European continent. If there hadn’t been the pressure of European membership being at stake, Mladic probably wouldn’t have been arrested and the genocide perpetrated in Srebrenica would have gone unpunished. We must applaud Serbian President Boris Tadic’s very courageous decision. In the end, Serbia demonstrated that she was able courageously to confront her history to become part of the European family. The day of Serbia’s integration into the European Union is drawing nearer; we can only welcome this.
Q. – And as regards Croatia?
THE MINISTER – France’s position is based on two firm beliefs. Firstly, Croatia will be the 28th EU member state. She can be a genuine enlargement “success story”. Croatia is a country the French know well: 400,000 tourists go there every year. France is the fifth-largest investor there. But the second point is that we have to learn lessons from the past: no more blindly forging ahead. No more enlargement if there aren’t sound, solid foundations for it. It’s precisely because I’m pro-European that I no longer want this blind forging ahead. I’m enough of a convinced European not to want to devalue the European Union entry coupon.
Moreover, you often see a loss of impetus on the part of candidate countries as soon as negotiations are concluded. There are generally two years between the closing of negotiations and accession… The impression is that the finishing line has been crossed and the efforts stop. This isn’t good for anyone. We want enlargement to be rigorous through to the end. That’s why we want the establishment of a “monitoring mechanism”, a system of coaching allowing us to check how efforts are progressing between the closing of negotiations and accession. Especially since, in many areas, we need to learn from experience! At the moment, we’re finalizing an agreement on this question with our partners, the Germans in particular. Furthermore, the Croatians have understood that it’s in their interest. They want to be the good students of enlargement. If everything goes well, we could close the negotiations in June, and Croatia could join in 2013.
Q. – The French are very hesitant about enlargement. How can they be made to change their minds?
THE MINISTER – The idea, precisely, is to show that enlargement will no longer be rushed through or done just to make people happy. And that enlargement isn’t an endless process. Europe has borders. These borders are with Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia. We won’t go further. (…)./.