"Normalization of relations with Kosovo necessary condition"
Serbia has the clearest stability of all countries in the region and it wants to have a stabilizing effect on other Western Balkan states.Source: Beta, Tanjug
This is what Serbian Prime Minister and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic said after meeting with German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Belgrade on Wednesday.
Germany has always been fully supportive of stability across the Western Balkans, while Serbia has managed to maintain peace and stability "even in difficult times, with support provided to our country by the German government," Vucic told reporters, Tanjug reported.
"Serbia has a brave and honest policy, and speaks its mind to everyone. In Moscow, we say Serbia is on the European path, and in Washington and Brussels we say we want good relations with Russia... Serbia is a sovereign, free and independent country and our strategic goal is the EU, while preserving good relations with Russia, China and other countries, and that is the policy we will continue," Vucic said.
Germany contributed to peace and stability in the region, said, adding that he expected more support in reforms to pave the way to the EU.
"The electoral victory gives reason for joy, but also carries great responsibility in the reform process and further development of relations with Kosovo, which, for the EU, is a necessary condition to agree in the end for Serbia to be a member," Gabriel said after congratulating Vucic on winning the presidential election.
"This must be understood because the EU has had the experience of such unsolved problems continuing after a country's EU accession," he said.
He praised Vucic' government, as it "stayed the course of advocating stability in the entire region and on the road of EU integration and he likened it to a guarantor of stability in the region."
Asked when he expected Serbia to become a part of the EU, Gabriel said he could not give a time frame as it would depend on the pace of reforms, but also on relations with Pristina.
"Germany feels an obligation to be there for Serbia and other countries, in their bid to join the EU, and to support Serbia in becoming a member as soon as possible," said Gabriel.
Mentioning the post-election protests in Belgrade and other Serbian cities, Gabriel said that was a part of democracy and that it was important that they were peaceful and without state interference, and added that the government had a responsibility to show that Serbia was a stable country that guaranteed stability for the entire region.
Vucic said that "everyone has the right to protest, there is no policeman that can be seen on the streets these days, demonstrators are allowed to do what they want."
"These, of course, are not great numbers, but they are significant to and we must pay attention to the reasons of their dissatisfaction to make an even better economy and care about their needs," he said.
Asked for how long the EU would tolerate Pristina's refusal to continue the dialogue in Belgrade - and for how long Belgrade would be offering that dialogue to Pristina - Vucic replied:
"The dialogue is not in the least an easy and simple topic for us, and the moves the Serbian authorities made in the past period demanded courage."