Venizelos brings message of support to Belgrade

Evangelos Venizelos says his trip to Belgrade is to bring the message of encouragement and support to the country's further EU integration and internal reforms.

Source: Tanjug
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The Greek foreign minister and the current chair of the EU Council of Ministers is visiting Serbia on Tuesday.

In an interview for Tanjug on Monday, he said that he had come as vice prime minister and foreign minister of Greece to reaffirm the excellent ties of friendship and cooperation which the two countries have been maintaining for years.

Venizelos recalled that Athens has always been giving strong support to the enlargement of the EU over which it holds the rotating presidency for the fifth time, adding that his country remains firmly committed to the vision of a European perspective for all Western Balkan countries and intends to continue actively working on the implementation of the enlargement strategy.

As long-term and fervent supporters of Serbia's EU path and the chair of the Council of Ministers of the EU, Greece recognises major progress and important achievements Serbia has made on its EU path, Venizelos said.

He noted that the official opening of accession talks between Serbia and the EU (on January 21) was a very important historic moment for Serbia, the entire Western Balkan region and the Greek presidency over the EU Council of Ministers.

"We are looking forward to a stable progress of the talks in the future and Greece intends to keep supporting Serbia's efforts in terms of EU membership, improvement of EU-Serbia economic ties and strengthening of EU the principles and values in the Western Balkan region, including good neighbourly relations," Venizelos was quoted as saying by Tanjug.

He noted that Greece "commends Serbia's leadership on the courage demonstrated in the dialogue with Kosovo."

"We believe that a common European perspective and especially the ongoing EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Priština constitute an essential framework which would eventually lead to a comprehensive and mutually acceptable solution," Venizelos stated.

He noted that Kosovo and the rest of the Western Balkan region have a clear European perspective and that Athens is actively supporting all the efforts which contribute to its further strengthening.

Greece is one of the five EU members which have not recognized Kosovo's independence unilaterally and illegally declared by ethnic Albanians, Tanjug said.

Venizelos stated that Greece and Serbia maintain excellent relations and pointed to the strong historical, cultural, religious, social and economic ties. Political relations are excellent as demonstrated by the strong support of Greece to Serbia's EU aspirations, Venizelos noted.

The two countries also share very close ties in terms of economy, he noted pointing to the significant number of Greek investors in Serbia. Despite the internal economic crisis, Greece is the third most important investor in Serbia and Serbian tourists visit Greece frequently which serves as an incentive to the country's economy, especially in the north.

Commenting on the beginning of the talks between representatives of Cypriot Greeks and Turks, Venizelos said that Athens supports the efforts of the Cypriot government to achieve a just, functional and sustainable solution. When asked about his view of the similarities between the Cyprus issue and the situation regarding Kosovo, he said that these are two different issues in two separate sensitive regions.

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