U.S. VP Biden visits Belgrade
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden said Tuesday Serbia was the political and economic cornerstone in the region.Source: B92, Tanjug
At a press conference with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Biden said a united and peaceful Western Balkan region was crucial for all of Europe, and that during the past three decades he observed "all of Serbia's neighbors," and mentioned "Croatia, Kosovo, and others" in this context.
Biden said he and Vucic discussed above all the negotiations between "Kosovo and Serbia," and stressed that many things from history need to be overcome. He commended Vucic for his visit to Srebrenica, the signing of a declaration with Croatia, and the opening of EU accession talks chapters.
According to him, U.S. and Serbian militaries are "fighting Islamic State together" and participating in global peacekeeping operations. Biden also said that they spoke about an extradition agreement that would enable better police cooperation between the two countries.
Biden thanked his hosts today for the welcome, and noted that he traveled to Serbia the first time in 2009, only months after Barack Obama took office as the U.S. president, and that his trip at the time came out of the desire to show "the importance of the region."
Biden also said his country supports Serbia's bid to join the EU, saying it would be "in the interest of the United States."
Biden said he and U.S. President Barack Obama appreciated the leadership demonstrated by Vucic on many occasions, in particular in the relations with Croatia.
"I commended the prime minister's efforts towards broader reconciliation in the region - the visit to Srebrenica and the signing of the declaration with Croatia," Biden said.
Serbia must be a part of a democratic Europe, he said.
Some moments in our common history were very painful, Biden said, adding that he was pleased a new chapter had been opened in Serbia-U.S. relations.
"The United States and Serbia do not agree on every issue, there are a lot of scars and wounds that are alive from the 1990s, but I hope that we will take steps forward, and that the entire region will be marked by economic growth," said Biden.
He extended his condolences "to the families of those whose lives were lost during the wars of the 1990s, including as a result of the NATO (1999) air campaign."
Biden said he discussed with Vucic ways to improve the partnership between the two countries and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels.
In the U.S., there is interest in direct investments in Serbia, he also said.
U.S.-Serbia bilateral relations are on an upward trajectory, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said at a press conference with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Tuesday.
Vucic said he had discussed three significant topics with Biden - the U.S.-Serbia bilateral relations, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and potential future progress in it, as well as regional relations and Serbia's European path.
Vucic added he and Biden had discussed the relations between Serbs and Albanians, informing the U.S. vice president that, in a month's time, Serbia would welcome Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and ethnic Albanian representatives and businesspeople from Kosovo.
Through business forums and meetings, Serbia wants to develop as a country and ensure higher economic growth while protecting its state and national interests, he said.
"We spoke about all that has happened over the past 30 years and, I would say that, in these relations between Serbs and Albanians, many people committed numerous mistakes.
For us as a nation, for the government of Serbia and for me personally, taking that kind of responsibility for mistakes committed by our compatriots has never been a problem," Vucic said.
He said he believed others would do the same as many Serbs and Albanians had lost their lives, which he said would not happen again in the future.
"I believe a different future - and something we can try to reach an agreement on, rather than watch each other through the crosshairs - is ahead for us" Vucic said.
There is a growing number of U.S. investors in Serbia, even though that is not mentioned often enough, Vucic said.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Tuesday he expected significant U.S. support for preserving regional peace and stability, without which he said there would be no better life for citizens or economic progress.
"We must devote more energy to preserving peace and to stabilization," Vucic said, thanking Biden for his support.
Vucic said he was certain the U.S. wanted a stable and peaceful Western Balkans, adding that Serbia would do all it could to contribute to that.
Regional stability was the main topic of the discussions with Biden, Vucic said.
He also thanked the U.S. for its support for Serbia's European path, noting Serbia would strive to meet all its obligations.