German MPs to discuss EU, economy, Kosovo

BELGRADE -- A delegation from the German parliament led by Andreas Schockenhoff will arrive in Belgrade to meet with officials of the Serbian government and opposition.

(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

The meetings will focus on Serbia's EU integration, the implementation of the agreement between Belgrade and Priština, relations with Kosovo and the economic situation in Serbia, according to a statement from Berlin.

Head of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) office in Belgrade Henri Bohnet told Tanjug that visit of the German parliamentary delegation to Serbia can be viewed as a sign of encouragement and support to reforms of the Serbian government in the context of EU integration.

Schockenhoff, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of CDU/CSU, the coalition led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is arriving in Belgrade with foreign policy advisors. The aim of the visit is to learn more about the current political situation in Serbia under the new government and about the situation after the floods that hit Serbia in May, Bohnet told Tanjug on Tuesday.

This German MP in 2012 presented seven demands that Germany expected Serbia to meet during its bid to join the EU, including the signing of a legally binding statement of Belgrade and Priština that would be implemented before Serbia's EU accession talks were finalized. He mentioned "a contract on good neighborly relations" as an example of what this statement could look like.

The German delegation arrives after Serbia's intensive diplomatic efforts in Berlin, where Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and a joint forum was held on Serbia's new beginning on its European path, opened by Vučić and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Encouragement

Henri Bohnet told Tanjug on Tuesday he expects Schockenhoff to repeat the demands he presented during his visit to Belgrade in September last year, to assess the progress Serbia has made in the meantime and see what else is to be done.

"His visit is also a show of support for the reforms promised by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in Berlin, and a signal that Germany continues to support the objectives and reforms of the Serbian government and reforms of the society, all in the context of European integration,” said Bohnet, adding that Prime Minister Vučić and the government need the strongest possible support, “both internal and external”.

The talks between the German parliamentarians and the Serbian officials will primarily address Serbia's EU integration, reforms, particularly economic, as well as continuation of the dialogue on normalization of Belgrade-Priština relations, Bohnet said.

"We all know that the economic situation is not improving and that the government must take urgent steps. I think that one of the main topics will be to see if the Serbian government has a concrete concept or a proposal, and if Germany can do something to help," he said.

Germany also supports dialogue with the opposition so that the reforms could be adopted in the parliament and finally accepted by the citizens of Serbia, he added.

Bohnet expects Serbia's position on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia to be on the agenda as well.

"Although Serbia has stated its official position on this matter, certain clarifications are needed due to the mixed signals that Belgrade sends to Russia and the West", said Bohnet, adding that he thinks Schockenhoff could be interested in this.

Schockenhoff served as German government's envoy to Moscow and focuses on Germany's policy towards Russia.

Asked if Serbian-German relations are on an upward trend following Prime Minister Vučić's visit to Berlin, Bohnet replied "absolutely".

"There is now a clear understanding of what each side can do for the other, and of the potentials of expanding the partnership and cooperation on a political, as well as an economic and social levels,” said Bohnet.