Luxemburg, 25. June 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Agreement on taking up accession negotiations with Serbia"

Negotiations with Turkey will be resumed only after a phase of reflection

Luxembourg, 25 June 2013 – "Today, an important step towards rapprochement of the Western Balkan states to the European Union has been taken! After years of negotiating, the EU has agreed to give Serbia a date (December 2013 or January 2014) for the start of accession negotiations. The final decision will be taken by the European Council at the end of the week. This is the starting signal for negotiations of Serbia's accession to the EU. At the same time, the European Council is expected to give the go-ahead for negotiations with Kosovo about further rapprochement in the form of a stabilisation and association agreement which is the precursor to candidate status", State Secretary Dr. Reinhold Lopatka said on the sidelines of the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg.

The decision of the Council came as a response to the visible success achieved in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on normalisation of relations between Serbia and the Kosovo.

"Serbia and Kosovo have recently demonstrated that they are determined to cooperate more closely and to seriously implement the specifications made by Brussels in a sustainable manner. This is now being rewarded. Today's decision is therefore not only a major success for Serbia and Kosovo, but also an important sign for all the Western Balkan states: If reforms are implemented and specifications fulfilled, the EU will acknowledge this", the State Secretary said.

"I also view it as a success for Austria's unchanging position and its efforts displayed over many years to support the countries in the Western Balkans in their accession to the EU. The EU saw the initiative of bringing the Prime Ministers Dacic and Thaci to the European Forum in Göttweig with great interest and called it an exemplary initiative. After today's success we must not forget to keep the other countries in the region, above all Macedonia, on the right track and to grant the matter the necessary priority on EU level", Lopatka said.

The decision to resume negotiations with Turkey only in autumn, after a phase of reflection, has been taken in the light of the current events in Istanbul, while at the same time it reflects the necessity for keeping the door to the EU open for Turkey.

Contact:
Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Press Department
Tel.: +43 (0) 50 1150-3320
Fax: +43 (0) 50 1159-213
abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at