Vienna, 19 April 2013 – Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger expressed his pleasure about the agreement reached today between Serbia and Kosovo on normalisation of their relations. "This is a truly historic step. I would like to express my deference for the two main negotiators and for the incessant efforts of High Representative Catherine Ashton. The agreement finally paves the way to a further normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The decision will certainly create a win-win situation. Nobody has lost out, all stakeholders are winners – and the people in Kosovo in particular."
The Vice-Chancellor congratulated the representatives from Belgrade and Pristina, above all Prime Ministers Thaci and Dacic and their teams and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vucic, who "despite strong headwind have demonstrated that safe, peaceful development and the future of their people is more important to them than the short-term interests of party politics or populist slogans". He continued to say that the agreement is also of importance for Europe as a whole and that it should soon be put into practice so that the citizens would notice the progress made and that the Serbian ethnic group in particular would finally gain certainty about its safety and future in the framework of the young Kosovar state. "I call upon all political forces in charge in Kosovo and Serbia – both the government coalitions and the opposition parties – to give full support to the agreement and thus to the European future of their countries."
Spindelegger was also confident about the European future of Serbia and Kosovo, as the agreement has prepared the ground for the next important stage of the journey they will both make towards Europe. "The courageous agreement between Serbia and Kosovo is an important sign of liberation for the entire region. It is now up to the European Union to deliver on its promise as soon as possible and to offer Serbia a concrete date for taking up accession negotiations – if the respective steps are taken to put the agreement into practice – and to start negotiating a stabilisation and association agreement with Kosovo." The Council of Foreign Ministers' meeting this coming Monday would offer the next opportunity "to hear a first-hand account about the outcome of negotiations", the Vice-Chancellor concluded.Contact:Federal Ministry for European and International AffairsPress Department Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3320Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213 e-mail: abti3(at)bmeia.gv.at