“The whole region needs good relations and reconciliation, and I know that you are part of that,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Belgrade, where she met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
Von der Layen noted that she is a strong supporter of the Western Balkans’ EU membership.
“In this context, I really support and welcome the strong emphasis on reforms. I congratulate you, you have done a tremendous job,” Von der Leyen said, adding that she hopes Serbia will open new chapters as soon as possible.
As she said, “we know that the decision is up to the member states, I know you know that and I know you are working to meet the conditions.”
Speaking about Kosovo, Vucic said that the Serbian delegation is doing everything it can to reach an agreement.
“We will do our best not only to maintain peace, but also to reach more agreements that will mean security for people in the Balkans, but that will also mean a better life and economy for all of us,” Vucic said.
He said that dialogue under the auspices of the EU is something Serbia respects, which is fundamental, to which we are committed.
I was hoping that we would make an agreement last night, but I want to believe that we are not far from solving the current problem and I hope that we will be able to avoid some future problems. This is important for all of us, Serbs and Albanians and the whole region,” Vucic said, adding that we will not be the leader of the EU until we fully resolve these relations.
He also said that “we have a lot to do, although it seems to me that we have done important things.” He also said that the EU President said that it is vital to reduce tensions by returning to dialogue, and that the EU has been based on dialogue and economic development from the beginning, which leads to understanding on both sides, healing of wounds and eventual reconciliation a long process leading to a peaceful and hopeful future.
“With gratitude for these words, I want to reiterate that Serbia is fully committed to the implementation of the agreements signed so far, of which the EU is the protector,” he said.
He also pointed out that it is important for EU membership to resolve relations with Pristina, and that Serbia will not be a member until these relations are resolved.
“No signal from Brussels”
He said he had received no signals from Brussels confirming the Reuters article that the EU was no longer interested in the Western Balkans. He also says he spoke about this with the EU president, saying he reiterated today that the Union wants Serbia and other countries in the region as members.
“We know that there are different views on the EU, but I don’t think that would be strategically wise for the EU either. It would be wise to show that the EU is still attractive for everybody. I believe in von der Layen’s words,” Vučić said, adding that he knows that there are those who believe that EU membership is not a priority, but that events like today’s show Brussels’ orientation “and what we can do together.
He said that Serbia will not be a member of the EU next year, “but I do not know in a few years,” Vucic said, noting that in the next period we have to deal with the issue of energy, which is very important.
Asked about Serbia’s European course, the President of the European Commission said that Serbia has come a long way.
“We believe that we are friends and partners, within the Union there are treaties and values that are respected, everything is integrated in the rule of law. Democracy and the rule of law are very great values and we want them for all our citizens,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of economic integration, adding that they are very important.
“With mutual understanding, not only will we be friends and partners, but we will all one day be part of the EU,” he added.
He said that Serbia has an important contribution and the voice of Serbian citizens should be heard.
“We want to listen to you,” he said.
He added that there are many challenges ahead of everyone, that “we need to overcome the pandemic and encourage economic recovery.”
“The EU has invested significant amounts of money to overcome the pandemic. Support of €3.3 billion has been allocated for the Western Balkans and Serbia has already received €23 million in ongoing assistance,” the EU President said.
She added that regional integration is a very important process because, above all, it is for the benefit of citizens./ibna