Steinmeier: Germany is "reliable partner on path to EU"

BELGRADE -- "I come to Belgrade with the message that Germany will continue to be a sincere and reliable partner to Serbia on its way towards the EU," says Germany's FM.

(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

Speaking for Tanjug ahead of his visit to Serbia on April 28, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. said that during the past year of the current government "Serbia has taken major steps forward in the past few years."

He listed them as "the historic agreement on the normalization of relations with Kosovo, the opening of EU accession talks, the beginning of painful but much needed economic reforms."

According to him, "the greatest challenge for our country in years to come will be to stay on that path, with political determination and consistency."

He noted that Serbia and Germany have "very close and friendly bilateral ties."

"We want to continue this cooperation in the future. We particularly want to continue to be a sincere and reliable partner to Serbia on its path towards the EU. That is an important message of my visit to Belgrade," said Steinmeier.

Germany and the European partners "expect a comprehensive normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo," and Germany "has not made Serbia's admission to the EU conditional on recognition of Kosovo," he said.

"Germany and the European partners expect a comprehensive normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo in the form of a legally binding agreement," Steinemier told Tanjug, "pointing out that the EU had made that clear at the very beginning."

The German government "has never spoken about international and legal recognition of Kosovo by Serbia as a prerequisite for Belgrade’s admission to EU membership," said Steinmeier.

Steinmeier added that Germany would like to see Chapter 35 (Kosovo) opened at the very beginning of negotiations - "as soon as obligations under the agreement on normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina are fully implemented" - which he said was a long and difficult process.

Despite being so difficult and taking a lot of time to complete, these very tasks must start being dealt with in time instead of being postponed indefinitely, Steinmeier said.

Although Germany is among Serbia's top trade partners, it wants to strengthen these economic ties even further, he also told the agency.

"Germany is already among Serbia's top trade partners and the volume our trade was constantly growing over the past years. We want to promote the economic relations with Serbia even further," Steinmeier underlined ahead of his Tuesday's visit to Serbia.

Asked "what should be done to attract new German investors in Serbia," the minister said that from Germany's point of view, "Serbia should strengthen the rule of law and step up the fight against corruption," adding that he thinks that the Serbian government "also believes these aspects are important and that it is working to improve them."