"Serbia won't make promises it can't keep"

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić told German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday that Serbia is fully committed to resolving the Kosovo issue.

Nikolić meeting with Westerwelle (Tanjug)
Nikolić meeting with Westerwelle (Tanjug)

Serbia is also committed to making further progress towards the EU, but it will not be deceiving its European partners by making any promises it cannot keep.

Nikolić said that Serbia is committed to arriving at a plan for the implementation of the Brussels agreement between Belgrade and Priština, but it will never accept to see implemented anything that is not there in the document, nor will it ever, openly or otherwise, accept Kosovo independence.

Nikolić pointed out that Serbia does not want Europe to be sustaining it financially, but rather wants to be able to do work.

“Serbia needs new investment to provide a better life for its citizens and therefore it is important for it to get a date for the start of (accession) talks with the European Union,” the president's press office quoted Nikolić as saying.

Nikolić told Westwerwelle that three weeks have been lost in an attempt to arrive at a plan for the implementation of the April 19 agreement.

“This is a clear sign that the implementation talks need to be led by the prime ministers (from Belgrade and Priština), in the presence of European Commissioner Catherine Ashton, because they know best what is agreed in the document,” said President Nikolić.

Westerwelle agrees with Nikolić on the need for the implementation talks to be led by the prime ministers.

The German foreign minister said that Germany pursues an open policy towards Serbia and its EU membership and that it sees Serbia as a European country.

The European perspective of Serbia is in the interest of both Germany and the European Union, and I therefore wish to propose to the Bundestag to adopt a positive decision concerning Serbia's further progress on the European path, Westerwelle said.

He stressed that it is vital to arrive at a plan for the implementation of the Brussels agreement for such an opinion to come about.

The German official arrived here on Sunday when he was welcomed at the airport by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić.

Upon arrival, Westerwelle said that "a historic agreement was reached in Brussels" between Belgrade and Priština, but that it was "now important that it be implemented."

He said he was "optimistic" about the EU giving Serbia a date for the start of its membership negotiations, and added that the main prerequisite was the start of the implementation of the Brussels agreement, "but that it does not have to go at once, but can go step by step," Beta news agency is reporting.

Vučić said that he was "a pessimist by nature," but that he believed that Serbia "still deserved to get a date in June."

After his meetings with Serbian officials, Westerwelle will travel to Priština for talks with representatives of the Kosovo authorities.

"Implementation vital"

Guido Westerwelle has said that it was crucial for Serbia's progress towards the EU that the country begins the implementation of the Brussels agreement between Belgrade and Priština.

Upon landing at the Belgrade airport on Sunday, Westerwelle said that he has come "to encourage Serbia to press on in what is a truly historic moment for the country and that Germany wants to help Serbia make the right decision for the sake of its economic development."

Welcoming the guest, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that he is confident that Serbia will get a date for the EU accession talks in June and that it will be followed by real economic assistance and investment inflow.

Pointing out that Belgrade “knows Germany's requirements” and that Westerwelle will primarily be interested in what can be done about the implementation of the Brussels agreement and Serbia's progress on the European path, Vučić stressed that besides these two vital issues, Serbia has other issues to deal with as well.

According to Vučić, economic progress and more investment coming in is crucial for Serbia.

“We have not asked or begged for any dates or agreements, but now we will ask Germany and the European Union for more assistance in Serbia's development and for much more investment,” said Vučić.

After Serbia receives the date, he said, it is not praise in the media that I expect, but rather real support.

“We expect much help and support from Germany not only on our European path, but also in the most concrete sphere, Serbia's economic development. I am confident that our German friends will help us there,” Vučić said.

"Both our countries are European, both you and us are part of Europe and we are equal partners and I wish to contribute to seeing the results of the painstaking Brussels talks, which arrived at a historical breakthrough on April 19, successfully implemented," said Westerwelle.

Asked by a reporter if Germany will try to prevent Serbia from getting a date for the accession talks and whether the implementation of that which was agreed on in Brussels requires a special plan, the German foreign minister said, "April 19 marked the signing of a historic agreement and all we now need is to reach a deal on an implementation plan and to begin the implementation in a step-by-step fashion."

"We believe this to be the most important requirement for Serbia's further progress on its road to Europe," Westerwelle added.