"Serbia with EU on Ukraine - except for sanctions"

VIENNA -- Aleksandar Vučić has said that Belgrade supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and is doing everything so it can be with its EU partners.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

"Serbia's position is in accordance with international law and the position of the European Union. The only difference is that it has not imposed sanctions on Russia," Vučić said in response to reporters' questions after a meeting with Austrian Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger in Vienna on Wednesday.

"We're doing everything to be with our European partners. I think it's a clear message of Serbia and I think no one expected us to say publicly that we support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine," said he.

Vučić also spoke about the situation after the floods and said that Serbia and other countries in the region affected by the disaster needed European solidarity and help, but did not wish to give estimates about the damage.

Vučić said that Serbia will make those estimates together with international organizations, "because it wants to be realistic," but added that the first figure mentioned by the EBRD took into account damages of some EUR 2 billion, which, as noted, is "a huge sum for Serbia."

He emphasized that the country has no objection to act together with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in seeking help and solidarity from the EU.

He pointed out that Austria has sent a very large financial support, "one of the largest donations we received from countries around the world."

"We will not be able to cope on our own. We need European aid and solidarity. I hope we can count on it," said Vučić and thanked his hosts for the assistance provided so far.

According to a statement from his cabinet, Vučić said that economic cooperation between the two countries was good, but there was room for improvement, informing Spindelegger on new economic measures and laws that will be adopted.

"We will do everything possible to create better conditions for foreign investors," said Vučić and asked the Austrian counterpart to present Serbia as a good place to invest to his country's businesspeople, adding that Serbia was preparing a package of tax incentives to be offered to foreign investors.

The prime minister stressed that the European way was the only possible path for Serbia and thanked Austria for the support in the process.

Michael Spindelegger said that natural disasters "affect the whole region, and therefore Austria sympathizes with Serbia and for that reason must and is willing to help."

Speaking about economic relations between the two countries, he said he would recommend to Austrian investors to step up their investments in Serbia.

Spindelegger pointed out that Vienna was convinced that Serbia should join the EU while Vučić said Serbia would not give up on the road toward the EU despite the difficulties that lie ahead.

"We want to support Serbia on this path. We know it's a difficult task to implement reforms in the country, meet all the criteria on the European side. You can count on us because we are convinced that Serbia should join the EU, and we want to support you every day in this way," said the Austrian vice chancellor.

While in Vienna, Vučić will also meet with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and representatives of the Association of Industrialists.

According to announcements, he will attend the conference "Business Bridge", organized by the Austria-Serbia Economic Senate.