"Lithuania will help Serbia formally start negotiations"

BELGRADE -- Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius says his country "would do everything so Serbia can formally start the accession talks by the end of the year."

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

The Lithuanian official, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, spoke in Belgrade on Thursday.

Lithuania's task, as the country holding the EU presidency until the end of the year, is to do everything to facilitate cooperation between Serbia and the EU and ensure that Serbia formally starts the accession talks during its presidency, Linkevicius told a joint news conference with Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić.

Linkevicius reiterated Lithuania's view of supporting fully Serbia's EU integration.

Mrkić hopes everything about to happen in the coming months will allow Serbia to formalize the start of the accession talks with the EU in December this year.

"We talked about starting the formal part of the talks as soon as possible, although they practically started when (European Council President) Herman Van Rompuy visited Belgrade," Mrkić said.

He thanked his colleague for his efforts so Serbia would be seen as a serious candidate for EU membership.

Mrkić stated that the meeting with Linkevicius was not so much about the two countries' relations, but he added that although they are far from each other geographically, Serbia and Lithuania share a sincere friendship.

The intensity of bilateral meetings should gain a new quality, and the same applies to economic cooperation, where there is plenty of room for improvement, Linkevicius said.

The two ministers will later open an exhibition entitled Applied Nostalgia at the National Bank of Serbia, which Linkevicius described as a symbolic showing of what the two countries had in common, despite their distance from one another.

That connection should be the basis on which to build the relations between the two nations, he added.

During his stay in Belgrade, Linkevicius met with Parliament Speaker Nebojsa Stefanović and will later see Prime Minister Ivica Dačić.

The Lithuanian official will go to Priština later on Thursday.

Serbia and Lithuania ran for the seat of UN General Assembly president in 2010, which ultimately went to Serbia's former foreign minister Vuk Jeremić.

Lithuania was the last EU member to ratify the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Serbia from 2008. It did so in June this year.

"Implementation requires Priština's consistent approach"

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić said on Thursday that the Belgrade-Priština agreement was accepted by a broad consensus in Serbia, adding that its implementation requires Priština's responsible and consistent approach.

At a meeting with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, Dačić underscored that Serbia counts on Lithuania's assistance in the EU integration process, voicing hope that Serbia's membership negotiations will begin during Lithuania's presidency of the European Council.

"Intensive preparations are underway in Serbia, negotiating structures are being set up, and plans made for talks with the European Union," Dačić underlined.

Linkevicius, whose country is presiding over the European Council by the year's' end, and Dačić said that bilateral relations are on the rise, the joint interest being to step up a political dialogue and improve economic cooperation, the Serbian government's media office announced.