Steinmeier: Germany respects Serbia's progress

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says his country has great respect for the progress Serbia had made over the recent years and months.

Source: Tanjug

Following a bilateral meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on the sidelines of the 22nd OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade, Steinmeier said that the respect and support for Serbia was reflected in the support from international financial institutions.

This includes the IMF and the World Bank, and the European Commission's positive opinion on Serbia's progress and also opening negotiating chapters.

"I am confident that you will continue the journey you have begun," the German minister told a joint press conference with Vucic.

Steinmeier also praised Serbia's OSCE chairmanship "in a year full of challenges," and for "excellent cooperation" in the migrant crisis.

He explained that Serbia tabled "no financial demands either toward the EU or toward Germany," adding that his country is "most affected by the refugee wave, and needs cooperation with EU states but also the Western Balkans that is the main migrant route."

Speaking about Kosovo, Steinmeier said that progress in normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina was "key for the European Commission and the European Union" to allow Serbia to open membership negotiations chapters.

He also said that what has been agreed with the Brussels agreement should be implemented, "and continue work" on the formation of a community of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.

Most important country

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that Germany is the most important country for Serbia, since it was the key country in the decision-making process for Serbia's EU integration.

"I would like to thank Steinmeier and Germany for support given to our country along the EU path," Vucic said at a joint news conference with Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

He noted that all parties in the Bundestag had backed Serbia's further EU integration.

The Serbian prime minister said that he had also discussed the migrant crisis with the German foreign minister, noting, according to Tanjug, that apart from “a reasonable and civilized approach toward migrants, Serbia will show it is ready to accept a more difficult role.”

"However, for that, we expect a clear and unambiguous signal from the EU, primarily from Germany," Vucic said.

"Everything we receive as a European task, Serbia will fulfill," the Beta agency quoted him as saying, and adding, "We are ready to take on an even greater role."

Vucic also said "Serbia is not afraid of economic reforms, but it does fear the possibility of disruption of political stability in the region a little."

"The risk is huge, and that is why the support and the presence of Germany is so important to us," Vucic said, adding that he expected Germany to continue helping Serbia.

Vucic expressed his gratitude to Germany for helping Serbia's reform process, and especially for its position regarding the opening of the first negotiating chapter on December 14.

Vucic added that he believed Serbia was one of Germany's most loyal partners in Europe.

Terrorism and Syria

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday that the issues of terrorism and the Syrian crisis could eventually only be resolved by political means.

Steinmeier said after a meeting he had with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic that Germany had decided to take part in the conflict against the Islamic state in Syria, but Berlin was aware that a solution for Syria could eventually only be found through political agreement, rather than through military campaigns.

Steinmeier said Germany wanted to bring all relevant actors - Russia, the U.S., Europe, and also regional neighbors, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia - to meetings discussing the Syrian crisis.

Resolving the Syrian crisis is difficult but possible if we continue taking decisive steps towards a sustainable truce until the setting up of a transitional government, Steinmeier said.


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