Serbian, Israeli FMs sign visa-free deal

BELGRADE -- Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić and his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman have signed an agreement to abolish visas between the two countries.

The two ministers welcomed the signing, stating that it was an important step in the development of bilateral relations.

“This removes the obstacle to Serbian businesspeople and tourists that want to come to Israel,” Lieberman said.

Jeremić and Lieberman said that only new negotiations between Belgrade and Priština could yield a permanent solution to the Kosovo status question.

The Serbian minister said that he thanked Lieberman for Israel’s firm position regarding Kosovo.

“I am very thankful to Israel for its position on Kosovo, and especially to Mr. Lieberman personally for his part in making such a decision. Israel does not recognize the unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence and that is something that we appreciate greatly, especially given the pressure that Israel has been under,” Jeremić told a joint press conference.

Lieberman said that through direct talks between the two sides, a peaceful solution could be found to the Kosovo problem.

Asked whether Israel was under pressure to recognize Kosovo, Lieberman said that Israel “has been under pressure on many issues since 1948 and can handle it.”

The two ministers agreed that relations between the two countries on all issues were good, and that relations would further improve with the visa agreement.

He said that economic cooperation was also good and that Israeli investment in Serbia was on the rise, despite the financial crisis.

Lieberman will also be meeting with President Boris Tadić, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković and Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac.

As part of a Balkan tour, the Israeli foreign minister visited Croatia on Tuesday and will head to Montenegro on Thursday, which will be the first visit by an Israeli official to Montenegro since it gained independence.