German official: Serbia cannot remain neutral
German official Gernot Erler has said that Serbia's neutral intermediary role between Russia and the EU "is not possible."Source: Tanjug
"Serbia is on the road to the EU and that includes gradual implementation of the common foreign and security policy," Erler, who serves as special representative of the German government for the country's OSCE chairmanship in 2016, has stated.
He spoke in Belgrade on Tuesday addressing "Belgrade Dialogues" - an event organized by the association "Forum Serbia Germany".
According to Erler, the EU "rightly expects from Serbia to gradually implement the common foreign and security policy, as well as adhere to the values of the EU." He listed "respecting international law, implementing agreements, and respecting territorial integrity of countries" among those values.
Erler is convinced that there is "no room for a neutral position, but only for clear determination."
"If Serbia decided against these common values, it would certainly contribute to the strengthening of those political forces in Europe that want to slow the momentum of European integration," said Erler.
Erler said he was monitoring the developments in Serbia with great attention, adding that the country "not only has the status of a candidate, but officially began accession negotiations in January of last year."
He said he hoped that the opening of the first chapters in accession negotiations would "follow soon."
Noting that Serbia, in addition, presides over the OSCE this year, the German politician said that "historical and cultural ties that Belgrade has with Moscow are known."
He said that "nobody is criticizing or questioning those ties - instead they are considered a chance when it comes to establishing trust in the work of the OSCE."
According to Erler, "the internal political agenda is impressive in Serbia," while there was "a lot of work, commitment, and courage to make unpopular decisions behind the reform steps in many areas."
"These are all reforms that Serbia should have done a long time ago, and that Serbia needs in order to be a modern and competitive country, not just to become an EU member," he explained, adding that he would "like to see more involvement of the opposition in the reform process."
Erler said that there was need for further work in the area of the rule of law, and to "consistently pursue a regional program of reconciliation and rapprochement," saying he was pleased that Serbia improved relations with all its neighbors."
When it comes to relations with Pristina, he stressed that "any good news" in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was important, and that Prime Minister Vucic "brought positive news from Brussels in the field of justice."
"This news is important, especially when it comes to Chapter 35, which represents the opening of the doors of all areas of accession negotiations. The dialogue is also for Europe of great political importance," said Erler, adding that there was "consensus in the EU" regarding the organization's enlargement to include the Western Balkans.
The German government, as the politician underlined, was "committed to the process of EU enlargement, to the European perspective of the region."