By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
Serbia expects the support of Germany in its accession negotiations with European Union, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said today during his second visit to Berlin in less than a month. German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier praised Vucic for his “reform agenda”, but underlined that Berlin would not “reduce the preconditions” for Serbian path to EU.
Vucic and Steinmeier attended the conference “The new beginning towards Brussels – Serbia in a path to European Union” organized by the Serbia-Germany Forum and the German Foreign Policy Council. Earlier this month Vucic was in the official visit to Berlin, discussing with Steinmeier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany would support Serbia in its path to EU, Steinmeier said. He praised Vucic’s cabinet for its “determination to conduct the necessary reforms”, Tanjug news agency reported from Berlin.
German Foreign Minister has added, however, that Serbian accession process would not be uncomplicated; it “implies courage and persistence and for the peace it is important to have constructive politics both internal and foreign – because people are those who should support the challenging path towards the EU”.
“I am convincing you that we want to be a partner in overcoming these challenges. We will be a partner, but demanding one; one which will support you in overcoming the challenges, but not in reducing the preconditions. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is aware both that this is the only way and there’s no concessions in the process, including the normalization of the relations with Pristina”, Steinmeier told Serbian delegation.
Serbian Economy Minister Dusan Vujovic and Public Administration Minister Kori Udovicki attended the conference alongside with Vucic.
Vucic is ready for “hard work that led to the success” and his “reform agenda gives reasons for the hope”, Steinmeier said. The fact that Vucic has “tied his political fate with the reforms is praiseworthy”, German minister emphasized.
He recalled that Serbia “did a lot” after Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party won 2012 elections. According to Steinmeier, 2013 agreement on the normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina was the historic one. Nonetheless, he added that Vucic “will certainly support both its implementation and further steps in normalization of the relations”.
Berlin also expects Belgrade to encourage Bosnia in its path towards the EU.
“I will ask Moscow for the gas price”, Vucic says
Vucic has announced “the new beginning” in the relations of Serbia with the world. “I say the new beginning because I know that many countries are fed up with our narrative, when we say one thing and do another one. The new beginning means that what we say, we think and do. This is the new beginning in the relations between Serbia and all the others”, Vucic explained.
“In other words if I say that I will ask for the gas price in Moscow I will do it, because this is an honest and responsible approach without hidden messages and bad intentions which is very important for Serbia”, Prime Minister specified.
Serbian position over Ukraine crisis is contrary to that of the EU. As Vucic has said earlier this year, Belgrade respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity but will “never” impose sanction towards Russia which is among top Serbian economic partners and co-owner of “NIS”, national energy company.
If Serbia does its “homework” it will expect “from Germany and all the other EU partners” to assess whether it was well done in 2018, 2019 or 2020, Vucic said, alluding to EU membership.
He announced that Belgrade intends to open the new chapters in accession talks with Brussels in autumn. In that regard, German support is expected for chapter 32 on financial control.
Vucic said that Serbia is now top economic partner of Germany in Western Balkans and that it has overtaken Croatia for the first time. In 2013 the trade exchange between Serbia and Germany has reached 3 billion Euro; both exports and import had been increased with the highest increase of products made by German companies in Serbia, Vucic stressed.