Ashton: EU "only assisted" with Brussels agreement

BELGRADE -- EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has said that the Brussels agreement "is not her success."

(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)

Rather, it is the success of Belgrade and Priština, while the EU "just assisted in that process," she said in an interview.

"The two prime ministers reached that agreement. They showed political courage, resolve and desire to arrive at a solution. My role and that of my team was to help in the efforts. That was their success," Ashton told the Belgrade-based weekly Novi Magazin, which declared her "the Person of the Year."

Ashton underlined that everything she has been doing, she has done in the name of the EU.

"The only victory here was secured by Belgrade and Priština, but the European Union is a significant player in the region which has much to offer- the knowledge acquired in the past, but also hope for the future," she notes.

Ashton said that the EU member states support the opening of Serbia's membership negotiations, and the negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Kosovo.

"One of the reasons for such a position is the significant progress that both sides achieved in normalizing their relations," she was quoted as saying.

The EU high representative underscored that "all agreements reached in the framework of the EU-facilitated dialogue are binding, and the implementation takes time."

"Both sides approached the implementation process very seriously, with resolve to do everything to the tiniest details. Up to this point, 50 people from Belgrade and Priština were in our offices for talks. All details are very important and so the sides will have to go through them all in detail - and that takes time," she said.

Ashton also pointed to "the close cooperation between Brussels and Washington during the dialogue."

"The Americans have fully backed the job that I have been doing - first, former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, then her successor John Kerry. I am thankful to them for their selfless assistance," the EU's foreign policy chief stated.

Novi Magazin declared Ashton its Person of the Year because she "achieved what others did not manage to do in the last 20 years - to secure a historic deal between Belgrade and Priština, and demonstrated excellent negotiation skills in the talks with Ukraine, and concerning Iran's nuclear weapons program."