"Romania will never block Serbia's path to EU"

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Thursday morning began his visit to Serbia with a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić.

Source: Tanjug
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Ponta said that his country "would never block Serbia's path to the EU and would be a most dedicated advocate of its accession into the Union."

Romania is and will remain a most dedicated advocate of Serbia's EU integration he said at a joint news conference after a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić.

It is not only in Romania's interest to have Serbia join the EU, but in the interest of the EU as well, he stressed.

It is in the interest of Romania to see Serbia become a member of the EU, but it is also in Europe's interest to be united, Ponta noted.

Serbia can learn a lot from Romania's EU integration, especially from the mistakes it made, he underscored.

Romania wants Serbia to learn from Romania's mistakes, he pointed out, adding that he was convinced Serbia would conduct the reforms related to the rule of law and economy very quickly.

The most important issue in Serbia's relations with the EU is not the dialogue with Priština, but the achievement of all the EU standards, he remarked.

The Serbian people face tough and painful reforms, but they will be of significance and will yield a result, which is EU accession," he said, emphasizing that Romania would hold its hand out for Serbia in perfect honesty and without any requirements.

According to earlier announcements, Vučić and Ponta will together travel to the town of Bor in eastern Serbia, where they will meet with representatives of the Association of Romanians in Serbia.

He will also meet with representatives of the Romanian community in the eastern Serbian region of Timok, according to the Romanian government.

A statement also pointed out that Romania "concretely supports Serbia in the process of joining the European Union," adding that Ponta's trip "confirms a joint commitment to intensify political dialogue and to consolidate bilateral relations."

The talks in Belgrade will, as stated, focus primarily on projects of cooperation in the economic field, but also in the field of internal affairs, cross-border cooperation, environment and tourism.

Romanian and Serbian officials will talk about improving dialogue between ministries, cooperation within the Danube strategy, the Romanian community in Serbia and coordination of various forms of regional cooperation.

They will also discuss "the situation in the eastern neighborhood,"" and the latest developments in the Western Balkans.

"Firm advocate"

Aleksandar Vučić said Thursday that Serbia had friendly relations with Romania and it expected Bucharest to be the staunchest advocate of Serbia’s European bid.

“Our plan is to improve relations between Serbia and Romania over the next four years,” Vučić told a press conference after a meeting he had with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in Belgrade.

He expressed gratitude to the Romanian prime minister for his country’s always protecting Serbia and its interests in Europe and voiced hope that it would continue doing that in the future.

“We expect assistance and support of Romania's on Serbia’s road to the EU,” Vučić said, stressing that Serbia could learn much from Romania on the way.

Belgrade expects Bucharest to be the staunchest advocate of our country’s bid on the road to the EU, Vučić said.

Recalling the fact that Romania is a close and good friend of Serbia’s and that throughout history, the two countries have never had problems between them and never waged wars against each other, Vučić stressed that they now wanted to improve their mutual relations dramatically.

The Serbian prime minister said November would see relations and cooperation between the two countries become more intense.

“Besides good and friendly relations, we want better economic relations and our trade exchange to increase over the next few years,” he said.

Vučić said he would particularly like to see cooperation within the framework of the Danube Strategy improve and pointed to the importance of promoting cooperation in the areas of infrastructure and energy, especially when it came to the Constanta-Trieste oil pipeline project.

“We agreed for our transportation and infrastructure ministers to meet in the summer to discuss the best ways to finance vital infrastructure projects, such as the 160-kilometer highway between Belgrade and Timisoara,” said Vučić.

Vučić said that he and his Romanian counterpart had discussed the position of minorities in both countries, adding that Serbia was satisfied with the way Romania treated the Serbian minority in that country.

When it comes to the position of the Romanian minority in Serbia, Vučić said that he had promised Ponta that Serbia would honor all the conclusions reached by the Intergovernmental Mixed Commission to make Romanians in Serbia feel as Serbian citizens, but also to make them feel satisfied about the way Serbian authorities treated them.

He said it was true that there were certain objections coming from both sides, adding that Serbia had done a lot when it came to providing education and information to the Romanian minority.

“What we cannot interfere with is relations between churches, but I believe that there will be no problems in resolving all other issues,” said the Serbian prime minister.

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