"Some lines can't be crossed," says prime minister

BELGRADE -- "The decision to open chapters in the negotiations with the EU is not up in Serbia, but on the European partners," Aleksandar Vucic has said.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

This is not about reforms but about the relationship with Pristina, the prime minister noted during his joint news conference in Belgrade on Tuesday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"It is about some of the issues from the Brussels agreement, such as the community of Serb municipalities, and some that are outside the Brussels agreement. We will do our best to, while preserving our national and state interests, reach agreements where we can," said Vucic.

He pointed out that there are also "topics that cannot even be discussed," such as "the handing over of 100 percent of the hydropower potential of (Lake) Gazivode."

"Nobody on Earth will make me do that. If someone wants a deal, then they must show it, while the decision is up to the EU," the prime minister has been quoted as saying.

Vucic also "pointed out it was a special honor that he received such praise from Steinmeirer for the reforms that have been implemented."

"If your conscience is clear, if you have done everything, if you have this kind of praise... We have done a lot, we'll do more, but there are lines that cannot be crossed," said Vucic.

He reiterated that Serbia will not recognize Kosovo and that the ongoing dialogue with Pristina is meant to establish "rational and reasonable relations, but in a way that is not an interference or a threat to anyone in the Balkans."

According to Vucic, "Serbia and Germany currently enjoy their best relations in modern history."

After analyzing relations and trade and the cooperation between the two countries, "it is likely that more and more German companies (will arrive) in Serbia," he said, adding that "those already doing business here are very satisfied with the conditions in which they work, which has also been confirmed by Steinmeier during the meeting."

Vucic said that "Serbia will, while protecting national interests, accelerate its European path - but not all is up to Serbia, at least something is up to European partners."

He added that he hoped that the results achieved by Serbia will be recognized and respected by EU countries as he believes they are respected by "the most important EU country - Germany."

Vucic thanked Steinmeier "for always regarding Serbia as a significant and important country in Europe and appreciating its influence and what has been done to preserve stability in the region."

Steinmeier said he was convinced "there will be progress in the opening of negotiating chapters this year," despite the obstacles that need to be overcome.

He told the news conference that "Germany is with Serbia in the efforts to open the chapters as soon as possible."

Asked by reporters about "normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina" the German minister said that he "explicitly" paid tribute to the contribution of Serbia to these efforts.

"There are still a few open points, but Serbia is not the only one responsible for that," Steinmeier said, "expressing hope that the European Commission will contribute to normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina."

He said he was "impressed by the engagement of the governments in implementating reforms."

Earlier in the day, Steinmeier met with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, and will also confer with President Tomislav Nikolic while in Belgrade.