The issue of Kosovo* and the dialogue remain important in 2019, especially from the Serbia’s EU accession point of view, said Head of Delegation of the EU to Serbia Sem Fabrizi after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. At a joint press conference Vucic reiterated that Serbia wants the situation to go back to normal and that taxes on goods from Serbia be revoked; only then can the dialogue continue.
Ambassador Fabrizi said that the EU accession is Serbia’s main strategic goal and that the Union supported EU perspective of Serbia and other countries of the Western Balkans throughout 2018.
“We discussed the situation in the region, Kosovo and the dialogue, which in 2019 remains important, especially from the perspective of Serbia’s accession to the EU. Courage and great commitment are needed in that process, and we will continue to mediate in hope that a comprehensive agreement will be reached,” Fabrizi pointed out.
“We also talked about the tariffs that Pristina imposed on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Fabrizi and repeated that “EU support can be expected in the process. We made it clear from the moment the taxes were introduced that the decision goes against the CEFTA and SAA agreements, and we insisted on Pristina revoking them,” Fabrizi stressed.
“The rule of law is one of the topics we discussed during the working lunch,” Fabrizi said and added that Serbia has made certain progress, opening 16 chapters and temporarily closing two.
“We discussed priorities,” the ambassador said and added that other topics on the agenda were “the independence of judiciary and introducing amendments to the Constitution.”
“We expect the Parliament to hold a debate, given its extraordinary position in a democratic society that should foster dialogue and discussion,” Fabrizi noted.
He mentioned that the Media Strategy is under preparation and pointed out that environment which encourages free speech is needed.
“We scheduled this lunch last year,” said Fabrizi and added that the launch is not related to the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia would continue its European journey, regardless of the membership date. He thanked the Member States for their support and underlined that the EU remains Serbia’s most vital foreign trade partner, accounting for 67 per cent of Serbia’s foreign trade.
“Apart from the nice things, we also talked about what Serbia needs to do. One of those things is the continuation of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue with a view to finding a mutually accepted solution,” the president said and added: “Once the anticivilisation taxes are revoked.”
“Such a move is not a politically popular one. Citizens don’t like it either. However, we are ready to continue the talks and reach a deal in the best of faith. I am not optimistic, but I said that I will dedicate my time and energy to this issue as it means safer future for Serbia,” Vucic said.
We are interested in continuing the dialogue with legitimate and legal representatives, to see whether we can strike a deal. If not, we will see what we can do to maintain peace and stability,” Vucic underlined.
“Kosovo listens only to the US, my apologies to the EU,” he added. “What’s in EU, Serbian Government and President’s focus, is the rule of law, fight against corruption, organised crime and fight for media freedom, and other important issues such as judiciary independence,” Vucic pointed out.
“I said that we see the independence of judiciary as particularly important. We discussed the adoption of certain anti-corruption laws, acting on GRECO’s recommendations,” he added.
“The Government, the Parliament and ministers are all faced with numerous tasks and I asked the European Commission President to take Serbia into consideration when making a decision regarding the steel quotas tomorrow,” Vucic noted.
“This is between the EU and China, but we asked the Union to take our interests into account,” Vucic said and added that today’s meeting has nothing to do with Putin’s visit.
The meeting between Serbian President Vucic, EU Member States’ ambassadors and Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi was also attended by ministers Ivica Ivica Dacic, Jadranka Joksimovic, Sinisa Mali and Nela Kuburovic, as well as Head of the Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence