PM: Serbia belongs in EU, "wants to be appreciated"

BELGRADE -- Serbia belongs "to the line of EU member countries and wants to be appreciated in the same way it appreciates the EU," Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has said.


He made the statement late on Thursday after a meeting with outgoing EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.

The meeting between Vučić and Fule was held after a regional conference of ministers of foreign affairs and finance from Western Balkan countries, and Vučić noted that his talks with the guests from the EU covered the issue of political stability in Serbia and the region, economic reforms and Serbia's EU accession.

Vučić expressed gratitude to the EU for the support it provided to the country so far and underscored that Serbia has done and will continue to do everything it can to preserve stability.

He noted that any kind of instability suits only those who want to do harm to Serbia.

Stability suits us because we want Serbia to progress and develop, the prime minister noted and added that Serbia maintains a serious and responsible attitude not because it is weak but because such a stand is better for the country and the region.

Vučić said that he had talks with the guests from the EU concerning economic reforms as well which are painful but which are being implemented because Serbia wants to be a successful and normal country. He added that EU support is important for Serbia because nobody in the Union wants another country with weak economy as a member.

The third topic of the talks covered Serbia's EU accession, and the talks primarily focused on the ways for Serbia to achieve progress on its EU path, Vučić said.

Serbia is working at full steam, it is adopting laws but it will not beg for membership, nor will it accept alms, Vučić said and added that this is why the country will fulfil its obligations and leave everything else up to member countries.

We believe that Serbia belongs in the line of EU member countries and we expect to be appreciated in the same way we appreciate the Union, the Serbian prime minister said.

Stefan Fule said Thursday in Belgrade that the European Union "is not asking Serbia to recognize Kosovo. "

“The position of the European Union remains the same as we presented last year when we were adopting the negotiating framework. At that time we made it very clear that what we expect is the continuation of the normalization between Serbia and Kosovo. We at that time have not requested the recognition, we are not asking this to be done today,” Fule said.

EU simply wants that process to move towards a full normalization, said Fule at a joint press conference.

Noting that this is the last time he will appear before reporters in Serbia in the capacity of the EU enlargement commissioner, Fule underlined that Serbia has achieved great progress in the integration process since his first arrival five years ago.

"I am very happy to see that, in less than five years, Serbia has become a certain candidate for EU accession," said Fule, adding that the question is no longer if, but when Serbia will join the EU.

He added that he had spoken to Vučić earlier "about the benefits available to Serbia and its citizens while the country is on the path towards the EU."

"Today we are focusing on economy," said Fule, and stressed that Serbia is not alone in the difficult economic reforms and that the EU will provide assistance, "not only through advice but also financially. "

Fule underlined that Serbia "has become the pillar of stability in the region," dding that this is also confirmed by the Thursday's regional conference of foreign and finance ministers in Belgrade.

"I am happy to be a part of that story," the outgoing EU enlargement commissioner said.