PM speaks about Russia, EU official "doesn't insist"

During his conversation with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn in Belgrade, Aleksandar Vučić "reiterated Serbia's position on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia."

Source: Beta, Tanjug

The EU official in charge of enlargement and neighborhood policy, on the other hand, "did not insist on this subject," reports said on Thursday.

"Once again, before all of you I say what I repeat in front of everyone and in every place, I say the same in Moscow, Washington, Brussels, Belgrade and Kosovska Mitrovica or any other place. Everything that I've been saying about Serbia's policy, about our way to the EU and our stance toward Russia, I said both before Vladimir Putin and before Hahn. We do not have three policies or two policies," Vučić was quoted as saying during a joint news conference.

He reiterated that Serbia policy was being conducted "in the interests of citizens," that the country's strategic objective was "the path to the EU," that sanctions will not be imposed on Russia - and that Serbia "respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Vučić said he told this to Hahn, who was "very kind and did not insist on this subject as much as I wanted to clarify the position of Serbia in the same way I spoke about it on many occasions."

The EU commissioner confirmed that he "did not insist on this point because he followed the statements of Prime Minister Vučić of the Ukrainian crisis," and added that it was "one of the reasons and examples of why Serbia should finally become part of the EU."

"When you're a member of the EU you participate in all councils, formats and in the decision making process. Today I heard his position that was crystal clear, and it is that Serbia's path is the path towards the EU. Of course it is necessary to carry out some additional changes in the society, but precisely for this reason the negotiation process takes a certain amount of time," said Hahn.

Hahn said earlier that Serbia should honor its obligations and impose sanctions on Russia, because the country was "legally bound to do that under the EU accession negotiations."

Speaking on Thursday, he said he was confident that Serbia will in the coming weeks or months open a chapter in these negotiations.

Hahn said he came to Belgrade to once again assure Serbian people and authorities that the European Commission and the European family of peoples are Serbia's partner on the EU pathway.

"I will personally work very hard on this and I will visit Belgrade very often in the coming period in order to ensure that Serbia joins the EU as soon as possible," Hahn said.

He expressed certainty that in the coming weeks or months, Serbia will open the first chapter in the EU accession talks, adding that usually the first to be opened are Chapters 23 and 24 referring to the rule of law, judiciary and basic rights.

"This is actually a new methodology which we started to implement with Serbia and Montenegro. It is our goal to ensure that a new member state joins the Union in its full capacity rater than just formally," Hahn said.

He underlined that the EU membership will be valuable for Serbia bringing welfare to the citizens of Serbia "and more money in their pockets."

Hahn said that two thirds of foreign investments in Serbia come from the EU countries, and it is the same with import and export, meaning that the EU is by far Serbia's most important economic partner. The EU commissioner said that he plans to organize investment conferences in Serbia in order to encourage investments and creation of jobs.

"Serbia is on a good path, it is working on the fight against corruption, improving judiciary and these are all necessary conditions for the arrival of new investors," Hahn said.

The statement by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker at the start of his term of office that there will be no further enlargement of the EU in the coming five years "caused concern," but the fact that an Austrian official is appointed as enlargement commissioner indicates that the EU is committed to this process which stands as a great challenge, Hahn said.

While in Belgrade today he also met with Minister of Justice Nikola Selaković.

As previously announced, the EU official will also be received Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić, President of the National Assembly Maja Gojković and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić.


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