EU Commissioner Hahn visits Serbia

Serbia "will always be able to protect national interests, but will behave responsibly when it comes to stabilization of the region," Aleksandar Vucic has said.

Source: B92, Beta

According to the Serbian government's website, the prime minister made the statement after a meeting with EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn on Saturday in Belgrade.

Vucic reiterated at a joint press conference, which was preceded by a session of the Serbian government attended by the European Commissioner, that Serbia's strategic goal is EU membership.

He said that the government session dealt with three areas - continuation of Serbia's European path, economic growth and regional policy.

Speaking about the European integration of Serbia, Vucic said that obligations of Serbia in this process were discussed at the session, especially in the context of Chapter 35, "which is the most difficult for Serbia as it pertains to Kosovo and Metohija."

The chapters that are yet to be opened were also discussed, such as chapters 5, 25, 26 and 20, as well as chapters 23 and 24, and within them, the issue of the protection of national minorities and the fight against war crimes in particular.

When it comes to the economic progress of the country, Vucic "Expressed his gratitude to the European Union on the help in the reconstruction of public buildings, especially after the floods that hit our country in 2014."

Speaking about EU enlargement, Hahn said that after Brexit there were "some doubts" regarding the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans - "but European leaders at the Paris summit expressed their commitment to enlargement, with Serbia being on top of the list of candidate countries."

"Be confident that you have the support to become a member of the European family. The EU will continue to work hard in order to achieve further progress of Serbia on its European path" he said.

Hahn "reiterated that he is a friend of Serbia because he believes in reconciliation and the need to contribute to the further progress of the region and commended Prime Minister Vucic for his wise decision not to react to statements from Croatia."

No state in the region should undermine the prospects of another for joining the European Union because it is where the future of all regional states lies, he said, according to a Beta agency report.

According to Hahn "reconciliation and regional cooperation were the principles the Union had been built upon, and that he expected EU members to support the development of the Union in the future, and regional leaders to support the EU integration process."

He explained that this should be interpreted as every state's contribution to regional development, which was also very important for the Union.

"We've been following every statement. I'm grateful to the Serbian prime minister for refusing to react," Hahn said in a comment to Vucic's decision not to respond to provocative statements from Croatia.

Vucic "thanked the EU official for not avoiding difficult subjects, unlike some other people in the EU," and added that the EU commissioner was "one of the people who deserved credit for avoiding many regional crises."

Serbia wants to have good relations with Croatia, Vucic said, adding that the country "never wanted to compete in offenses and tough talk with Croatia, but rather in economic successes."


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