Good afternoon. I am pleased to welcome President Vučić to Brussels today. And I was happy to congratulate him personally on his election.
Let me start by recalling that the European Union’s support to the European perspective of the Western Balkans is unequivocal. This was unanimously confirmed by leaders at the European Council in March. As to the pace of the accession process, it will depend on your advances in the reform agenda.
One example of how the European Union and Serbia have cooperated to tackle a common challenge is irregular migration. Let me thank you for your support then and today. I hope that the European Union can continue to count on Serbia, just as Serbia can continue counting on the EU to provide the necessary support.
Let me also commend you for your personal commitment to the stability and security of the region, a region which remains the European Union’s strategic priority. Within your first 50 days in office, you have met almost all your neighbours and regional partners. I encourage you to keep up this work. Your role is absolutely unique.
After a rather turbulent start to the year, today Serbia engages in dialogue – talking to, not at, each other – and I welcome your continued commitment to the Pristina-Belgrade Dialogue and your readiness to pursue, domestically and with Kosovo counterparts, a further reflection on future relations.
For me, the end-game of the Dialogue and Serbia’s reform efforts is full membership of Serbia in the EU. This is what we promised in Thessaloniki and what we are ready to deliver. You have reiterated lately that Serbia has made its geostrategic choice, and that there is no turning back. We expect your choice will guide your actions.
Finally, I encouraged President Vučić to pursue reforms to strengthen the rule of law with the same vigour and consistency as progress on the economy. A strong and robust rule of law is the ultimate signal that you are ready to enter the EU. Thank you.