Romania seeks tighter cooperation with Serbia on national minorities

Romania seeks tighter cooperation with Serbia on national minorities

Bucharest, July 16, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Daniel Stroe

President Klaus Iohannis today said, upon leaving on a state visit to Belgrade, that he will send Serbian officials three messages which concern setting up a model of cooperation in the region between Romania and Serbia, supporting the European path of this country and a tighter cooperation as concerns national minorities, an issue which has been thorny in the two neighboring countries’ relation.

He said he will discuss with Serbian partners regarding the evolution and development perspectives of bilateral relations, regional cooperation and stability, as well as topics on the international agenda. “We wish to reiterate the interest of Romania in this area, and our determination to actively contribute to regional stability and our firm conviction of the European perspective of the countries in Western Balkans region”, Iohannis upon leaving at the Bucharest Henri Coanda Airport.

Iohannis pointed out he will convey three messages to Serbian officials. “Firstly, Romania considers the neighboring state — Serbia — a key partner in the region. It is clear to us all the role of Serbia in the stability of this area. We want Romania and Serbia to offer a model of cooperation in the region by stepping up the bilateral relation and the intensifying of cooperation in as many as possible areas”, he said.

Secondly, Romania will continue to actively support the stabilization of the Western Balkans region, inclusively through the determinate support of the European path of the countries in the region. Serbia’s accession to the EU is an essential step for this objective and Romania supports an effective start of accession negotiations until the end of this year, Iohannis further said.

“The third important message is that we want a tighter cooperation on the topic of national minorities. The existence of a Serbian minority on Romania’s territory and a Romanian minority on Serbia’s territory constitutes an advantage that must be capitalized to its full potential. It is the duty of Romanian and Serbian authorities to find better solutions to cement the role of these communities as a solid bridge between us,” he explained.

The issue of national minorities has often troubled waters in the two countries’ relations. A few years ago, Romania set extra conditions for Serbia to be accepted as candidate state to the EU accession, pointing to what Bucharest said were not sufficient rights granted to the Romanian ethnic community in Serbia.  But Iohannis emphasized that Romania and Serbia have the vocation of a solid bilateral relation. “We want to fortify this common basis in the period to come,” Iohannis said.

President Klaus Iohannis is paying an official visit to the Republic of Serbia, where he will meet his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and representatives of the Romanian community living in this country.