"Austria supports Serbia along path toward EU"

VIENNA -- Austria supports Serbia along the path toward full membership in the EU, President of Austria Heinz Fischer said on Thursday.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

He added that his country "looks forward to the day when it would be able to congratulate it as the newest member state of the bloc."

Austria believes that the EU project would not be completed until the bloc admits aspirant countries from the Western Balkans that meet the requirements, Fischer told reporters after a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Having said he is glad that he had an opportunity to welcome “a good friend of Austria” in Vienna and discuss with him the issues relating to the Balkans and bilateral relations, Fischer underscored that an intensive exchange of information and talks are important, particularly in 2015, when Serbia is holding the OSCE chairmanship.

He noted that after Serbia, Germany is to hold the OSCE chairmanship, and then Austria in 2017.

Fischer said that there are many political topics that should be addressed, noting that EU foreign ministers are discussing the issue of Ukraine and the possibility of imposing further sanctions on Russia on Thursday.

In relation to this, Fischer noted that Serbia and Austria take similar positions, and that Vienna is advocating for a path of moderate and responsible policy.

He said that the agenda of the talks included economic issues too, adding that he is impressed with how close economic relations between Austria and Serbia and their companies are.

Fischer said that they also talked about a conference on the Western Balkans, as a follow-up to the Berlin meeting, which will be held in Vienna on August 27.

We will strive to prepare it (conference) the best we can. It is in our interest that it is held on high level, as was the case in Berlin, that prime ministers represent their countries, Fischer said, voicing the hope that the meeting will yield decisions and steps that would lead toward further cooperation in the region.

Vucic thanked Austria for the support it has been giving to Serbia along its EU path, and expressed the hope that the negotiations on Chapter 35 (relates to Kosovo), Chapter 32 (financial control), 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and 24 (justice, freedom and security) will soon be opened.

He once again underscored Serbia's strategic commitment to joining the bloc, and on the internal level - to political and economic stability.

The Serbian prime minister noted that many reforms have already been put in place, new bills passed and fiscal consolidation measures taken for the sake of economic stability. “We want to be a sound economy when acceding to the EU,” Vucic said.

Expressing confidence that the economic situation in Serbia would be much better as soon as this year, Vucic emphasized that Serbia is doing everything to help maintain stability, not only in the country, but also in the entire region.

He noted that the privatization process is under way in Serbia, in which many companies from Austria are interested.

“You can always count on Serbia as Austria's friend,” said Vucic, who is on a one-day visit to Vienna.

"Peaceful solution"

Serbia supports the search for a peaceful solution to the situation in eastern Ukraine, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in Vienna on Thursday.

As the OSCE chair, Serbia is closely cooperating with Germany and Switzerland, the future and former chairs of the organization, and it will show a proactive and diligent attitude in the search for a solution to the crisis, Vucic told reporters after the meeting with Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

"You cannot say that Serbia would be the deciding factor,"Vucic said replying to the questions of Austrian reporters and said that Serbia is conducting all its activities together with its European friends in order to come up with a solution to the crisis.

He underscored that Serbia shares traditional ties with Russia and that its strategic commitment is at the same time embodied in the EU path.

Still, Serbia is not a part of the EU and it has not been called on to discuss the sanctions against Russia, he said.

Vucic expressed the hope that Austria and other European partners would come up with the best way to solve the crisis in Ukraine.

"We are a small country and we are doing everything we can to complete our task the best we can, not harm anyone in the process and to provide assistance in the search for a solution to the problem, if we have the room for it," the Serbian prime minister said during his one-day visit to Vienna.