Serbia-France political dialogue "intensive and meaningful"
First Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Thursday that the political dialogue between Serbia and France was "very intensive and meaningful."Source: srbija.gov.rs
He made the remark during his meeting in Belgrade with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Serbian government announced.
Dacic "underlined that Serbia and France, as strategic partners and historical allies, will continue to contribute to the improvement of overall cooperation, through friendly dialogue and respect for mutual interests."
At the meeting it was agreed that Serbia and France jointly celebrate the anniversary - 100 years since the end of the First World War, and next year - 180 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Dacic expressed his gratitude for France's support to the European integration process of Serbia, reiterating that Serbia's membership in the European Union is a priority of our foreign policy, as well as on France's support for Serbia's candidacy for an affiliated membership in the International Francophone Organization.
Le Drian confirmed the interest of France to intensify political dialogue and bilateral relations with Serbia.
He conveyed the wish of French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Serbia by the end of the year, as well as to unveil the Monument of Thanksgiving to France on which the two countries work together.
The two officials highlighted that France sees Serbia as a leader in the region, and praised the efforts that Serbia invests in enhancing cooperation and preserving stability in the region.
After the talks, the foreign ministers of Serbia and France laid wreaths at the French military cemetery in Belgrade, where 375 French soldiers who were killed during the First World War are buried.
At the ceremony of paying tribute to the French soldiers, the military orchestra played the anthems of France and Serbia and after the wreath-laying ceremony, Dacic and Le Drian signed the Book of visits.
"Serbia will never forget the unselfish help of the French army when it was the most difficult, and this act will remain forever a testament to the friendship of two peoples and alliances of Serbia and France, but also an inexhaustible source of inspiration for love for freedom. That is why Serbia likes France as she loved us", Dacic wrote.
Le Drian highlighted the importance of friendship between the two countries, which were allies on the front during the Great War.
The French minister was also received by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. According to the Serbian government, they "assessed that the two countries are striving for the improvement of bilateral relations through intensification of dialogue at the highest level, as evidenced by the forthcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Serbia."
Brnabic "underlined that full membership in the European Union is a strategic goal of Serbia and that fixing an approximate date of accession gives a positive effect in the further implementation of reforms and harmonization with the EU acquis" and told Le Drian that Serbia was "ready to open new chapters in June."
The French foreign minister "stressed that France will continue to provide assistance to Serbia in the process of European integration, and added that in the coming period a lot of attention should be paid to reforms in the field of rule of law and judicial reform as the most important issues in the accession negotiations."
Brnabic "expressed her gratitude to France for the support it provides to the Western Balkan region, which it particularly showed through the Berlin Process which, according to her, is an additional incentive for regional cooperation" and "particularly emphasized the support of France in the establishment of the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation in the Western Balkans, according to the French-German model."
Brnabic estimated that France is one of the most important economic partners of Serbia and one of the important investors in the Serbian economy.
The prime minister cited French company Vinci Airports as a good example, which recently won tender for the concession of the Nikola Tesla Airport.
Le Drian said he expects that representatives of Serbia, along with many heads of state and government, will attend the event marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, to be held in November in France.
Earlier on Thursday, the French minister spoke with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.