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President [of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić],
I would like to thank you a lot for your nice words, for hosting me in such a warm way, and for the productive meeting we have just had together with your collaborators.
This is my first visit to the Western Balkans region. I wanted to do it because, for me, the Western Balkans are part of Europe. But more than Europe, they should be part of the European Union. By geography, culture, economic links and - the most important thing – by the aspirations of its citizens. That is why I started my visit to the Western Balkans with Kosovo. Because I think that there is important work to be done and that the talks between Kosovo and Serbia should start again as soon as Kosovars are able to form a government, which seems that is going to happen soon.
If this happens, and when this happens, the European Union will be ready to facilitate these conversations. The result will be what the Serbians and Kosovars want. It is not up to us to decide which is going to be the final result of these talks. But I think that we have to engage stronger than in the past, stronger than in the last months, in facilitating these conversations. That is why I talked with the President of Serbia [Aleksandar Vučić] about the convenience of nominating a European Union representative, who can help me in order to facilitate these conversations. Because even if I will be very much engaged in it, I will not have time to do the continuous everyday work that has to be done in order to push these conversations, trying to get an agreement.
The President [of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić] says that the offer he could have made several months ago is no longer on the table. Well, if this is your position, this will be one of the starting points of the negotiations. But something has to be on the table, because the future perspectives of Serbia and Kosovo with respect to the European Union - as you have said - depends critically on such an agreement.
Serbia is a key partner of the European Union. During this visit I will reassure of the continuous commitment of the European Union with respect to Serbia. I think that the accession negotiations can proceed faster. It will require increased efforts on your side, but also on our side.
Let me remember, President [of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić], that the European Union has been investing a lot both politically and financially in Serbia. In the last past 10 years almost €2.5 billion have been granted to Serbia. I am happy to see how closely we already cooperate. We have an intensive cooperation in providing security. Security is a key word these days for our world. Since the start of the year, we have had a lot of worries about security. Lots of issues that worry us, in the Middle East, in Libya, everywhere.
I also want to thank you for your participation in the European Union’s missions and operations, sending highly qualified personnel to Somalia, Mali and the Central African Republic. Hotspots at this moment, especially in the Sahel. There your soldiers are serving hand in hand with the European Union.
I would also like to further intensify our foreign policy cooperation. As for every country negotiating its accession, Serbia should progressively align its foreign policy with the one of the European Union. We should be addressing more often international challenges with one voice. And of course - I want to insist on that - we need to continue to work towards a comprehensive normalisation with Kosovo and implement all agreements already reached.
I stressed to the President of Serbia [Aleksandar Vučić] my personal commitment to facilitate this dialogue, offering the full collaboration of the European Union. I hope I will receive the trust and confidence to do so.
Thank you for your very nice words. Personally, it encourages me to a lot to face this difficult job, and I will do my best in order to offer the Western Balkans a deeper perspective on their way to the European Union.
Thank you for your confidence, thank you for your warm welcome. We are going to have time to walk together. To walk is the best way of accompanying the talk. So I am that sure we will continue approaching our points of views while enjoying the nature and the history of Serbia.
Q. Your aim is to bring both sides to the negotiating table. How are you going to do that, because it seems that the main objective of Pristina is the seat at the United Nations and the focus of Pristina is on Washington, not on Brussels?
There is no difference between the United-States and the European Union in our approach to Kosovo. During my visit to Kosovo, everybody was asking how controversial the relationship with the United States in regards to Kosovo is. Well it is not controversial at all. Washington is very powerful but they cannot offer a seat on the United Nations to Kosovo. There are other countries in the world, not only European countries. Countries like China or Russia or India who also have their say. I think that everybody understands that without an agreement of the Security Council Kosovo will not be a State recognised by the international community. It does not only depend on the will of Washington.
Q. This morning in Montenegro an old lady was apprehended by Montenegrin police. She is the mother of a member of the Parliament. He belongs to the opposition. Serbs in Montenegro get arrested only for expressing peacefully their protest against the freedom of religion laws. In their attempt to preserve their sanctities of Church. If you could please comment on this.
I am not aware and do not have information about this particular case so I cannot pronounce myself.
Link to video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-183888
- Publication date
- 3 February 2020
- Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations