Belgrade, 27 October 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Serbia needs to be granted EU candidate status before the end of this year”

Serbia should use the remaining time in 2011 for Kosovo dialogue

Belgrade, 27 October 2011 – On the occasion of his one-day working visit to Belgrade, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger was confident concerning Serbia’s efforts to be granted official EU candidate status as soon as possible: “The status of candidate to accession – something that Austria is vigorously advocating – is within reach for Serbia. The country should now pro-actively use this opportunity”, Spindelegger said after meeting Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić in Belgrade. “The positive opinion of the European Commission on Serbia is an important encouragement for the Serbian government, and at the same time it leaves no doubt as to the clear expectations of the EU. We expect that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will soon be resumed and that concrete solutions will be achieved for any issues that are still unresolved.”

The Vice-Chancellor also used the opportunity of his visit to Belgrade for bilateral talks with Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković and Vice Prime Minister Božidar Djelić on Serbia’s EU integration, the relationship between Serbia and the Kosovo, as well as economic questions. Prime Minister Cvetković is currently chairing the Central European Initiative and in this capacity has convened a summit of the 18 member countries, including Austria, for November 4th to discuss the current economic crisis.

“Austria is convinced that Serbia deserves candidate status. The government in Belgrade will now need to use the time until the official decision of the European Council in December to its best advantage. We are not expecting any unreasonable efforts from Belgrade; after all a return to normal of relations with Kosovo is also in the interest of the people in North Kosovo“, Spindelegger said.

The Foreign Minister underlined that only the development of good neighbourly relations to Pristina would make the next – and decisive – step, meaning the start of accession negotiations possible. “We support the European Commission’s recommendation. The successful course of Croatia – another country actively supported by Austria in its EU accession endeavours – showed that accession to the EU is not only lip service for the countries of the Western Balkans, but a serious, realistic perspective. Serbia must now also follow this course consistently despite any stumbling blocks along the way”, Spindelegger concluded.

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