President: We've done everything, ball in EU's court

BELGRADE -- Serbia has done everything to meet the conditions the EU set before it and "the ball is now in Europe's court," President Tomislav Nikolić has said.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

After a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias in Belgrade on Wednesday, Nikolić said Serbia is awaiting a decision which will be a turning point in its history, but is calm as it stands on the crossroads because it knows it is being responsible and honest towards the EU and itself.

"Soon we expect the decision in which our Greek friends will also play a part. The decision in question will be a turning point in our history. It will be a signal whether Serbia is wanted in the European family or not," said Nikolić.

Nikolić thanked Greece for its continuing support to all of Serbia's strategic and foreign policy priorities - European integration, protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity and promotion of regional cooperation, as well as its principled stance of not recognizing Kosovo's independence.

"We know that Greece stands beside us as an ally. We expect our friendship towards some other EU member countries will also be returned with them giving Serbia a chance to offer its citizens a better life and hope for a better future," said the Serbian president.

He said cooperation between Serbia and Greece is at a high level and the country is one of the biggest investors in Serbia, but there is significant potential for boosting the volume of trade and the two countries will step up efforts to this end.

"With EUR 2.2 billion in investments, Greece is one of the biggest investors in Serbia, especially in banking, energy, real estate, the hotel industry, cement. Still, there is a lot of room to improve and increase our volume of trade," said Nikolić.

After getting a date for opening accession talks with the EU, Serbia will become an even more attractive destination, not only for expanding existing but also for making new investments, said Nikolić.

"Serbia will be more attractive to new investors from Greece, who will find not only lucrative business opportunities but also loyal friends here. At the same time, with judiciary reforms and an efficient fight against corruption, we are creating an environment which, together with our geographical position, offers optimal conditions for economic development," said Nikolić.

Nikolić noted Serbia and Greece have very active cooperation in various areas, recalling that they have signed 32 agreements so far, and are working on a social security agreement and a protocol for the implementation of the readmission agreement with the EU.

"In this way, we will make our political dialogue more concrete in an effort to further different areas of cooperation between the two friendly nations," concluded Nikolić.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias stated on Tuesday that Greece firmly supports granting of a date for the start of Serbia's EU accession talks.

"We firmly support Serbia's EU integration process and direct granting of a date for the start of the accession talks," Papoulias said at a joint press conference with Nikolić.

He said that the relations between the two countries are exceptional, adding that there is considerable room for their further promotion.

Sincere, stable and fruitful cooperation of our two countries is a symbol of stability and prosperity of the Balkans and entire Europe, the Greek president said.

Our two countries are an important factor of stability and security in southeast Europe, he said, adding that Serbia's EU accession will considerably contribute to the development of the region.

Papoulias thanked Nikolić on Serbia's constant support in terms of the Cyprus issue, adding that he conferred with the Serbian president "on fostering of bilateral relations and strengthening of political, cultural and economic ties, the EU integration process and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia name issue."

"Greece has a sincere intention to resolve the name issue of its northern neighbor as soon as possible since that is in line with the policy of good neighboring relations which is the main condition for the future of all EU candidate states," Papoulias said.

Exchange of decorations

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

Serbian and Greek presidents Tomislav Nikolić and Karolos Papoulias presented each other with orders for outstanding contribution to fostering friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Nikolić granted Papoulias the Order of the Republic of Serbia on a sash for contribution to fostering and strengthening cooperation and friendly relations between Serbia and Greece.

Papoulias gave Nikolić the Grand Cross of the Order of the Savior which was established in 1829 as the foremost order of merit in Greece.

Papoulias is on a two-day visit to Belgrade, during which he will meet Serbia's top officials, Patriarch Irinej and attend the Greek-Serbian Business Forum.