"SAA remains core of EU-Serbia relationship"

LUXEMBOURG -- The Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) will remain at the core of the relationship between the EU and Serbia "until accession."

This is what participants of the first EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Council (SA Council) meeting said late on Monday.

“It is of importance in the context of Serbia's further progress in its EU accession that the 19 April agreement and all other agreements reached in the dialogue with Pristina are implemented in good faith,” according to a joint press release issued after the meeting.

The EU welcomed the efforts of both sides to ensure successful holding of the local elections in Kosovo on November 3, the release said.

The SA Council welcomed the entry into force of the SAA on September 1 and praised Serbia for the progress it has made on its road to the EU in 2013.

The EU has indicated that the SAA is an important step in the process of Serbia’s European integration, as it provides a broad framework within which the EU and Serbia will intensify their co-operation on the political criteria, trade and legal approximation.

The SA Council recalled the European Council conclusions of June 28 and the Council of Ministers conclusions of June 25, which commend the leaders from Belgrade and Pristina for the progress achieved in the EU-facilitated dialogue.

The SA Council also welcomed the September 8 agreement on energy and telecommunications.

The SA Council said that the SAA sets out the rules for a comprehensive partnership between Serbia and the EU and will help Serbia implement EU standards in key policy areas.