German support, requirements remain

Germany will support Serbia on its path to the EU but will not relax its requirements on that road, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday.

Source: Tanjug

Opening a panel discussion on Serbia's new beginning on its European pathway, organized by the Serbia-Germany Forum and Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations, Steinmeier said that the road to the EU would not be easy and it took courage and perseverance to succeed.

"It is important that the policies pursued be constructive in order to preserve peace and care must be taken to ensure that foreign and home agendas are in line with each other as the people are those who need to support the road to the EU, which is full of challenges. I assure you that we want to be a partner in handling these challenges. We will indeed be a partner, but a demanding one, too, who will support you in overcoming the challenges, but without relaxing the requirements," he said, and added:

"Prime Minister Vučić is aware that it is the only way and that there cannot be any concessions in this process, either when it comes to normalizing relations with Pristina on in terms of the rule of law and democratic governance, and it is not that the German side may wish to frustrate the process, but rather that we want the process to succeed."

Only hard work leads to success, and Vučić said that he was ready to go down that road, Steinmeier stated.

Serbia needs to implement reforms not because of the EU, but rather for its own sake, said Steinmeier, stressing that the fact that Vučić had his political fate tied to reforms commanded respect.

He pointed out that the history and relations between the two countries were marked by "a complex legacy," recalling that "100 years since the beginning of the World War One had been marked two days before and 15 years since the end of the Kosovo conflict two weeks before."

"The building hosting today’s event used to be home to the premises of the Yugoslav diplomatic mission, and in 1940 and 1941, its envoy was Nobel Prize laureate Ivo Andrić, whose study room Prime Minister Vučić and I visited today," said Steinmeier.

"Andrić was not only a Nobel Prize winner, but also the last Yugoslav envoy before and during World War Two, at a time when Germany brought war and misfortune upon the world," he added.

"We do not live in those years, but rather in the year 2014, whose beginning saw the EU opening negotiations with Serbia, which is of tremendous importance considering the history of relations," he said.

"Serbia is returning home to the heart of Europe. Seen within the context of the history we speak of, especially the 1990's, we can get a glimpse of how far Serbia has traveled over the years," Steinmeier said, observing that former Serbian PM Zoran Đinšić had made a big step in that direction.

Serbia has done much over the past two years, reaching a historic agreement with Pristina, and Prime Minister Vučić will certainly help carry it out and ensure further steps to normalize relations.

Serbia has also made improvements in relations with all its neighbors, and also showed support for Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state, said Steinmeier.

Vučić stressed that Serbia "wants to be a full-fledged member of the EU and it was aware that it had to introduce a lot of changes and make a lot of progress in various spheres of life."

Serbia, stresses the prime minister, wants to reach EU standards, change the things that have not been good and become closely related to Germany and Austria, something that was not the case in the past, to Serbia’s detriment.

“I hope that by fostering an honest relationship with the incomparably larger and more significant partner (Germany) we will succeed in securing for ourselves a place as future partner in the community of European nations. Serbia will be a reliable partner and it will put its thoughts into words, move from words to action and implement what it signs,” said Vučić.

He expressed satisfaction that Serbia had become Germany’s most significant economic partner in the Western Balkans, overtaking Croatia by figures, both for the first time.

“We want to finish drafting all the important systemic laws before the end of July, so that we can go ahead with fiscal consolidation and reducing the deficit caused by unjustified increases in salaries and pensions. We are determined to do it, no matter how hard it may seem,” said Vučić.


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