Vienna, 17 September 2013 – “Serbia is well on its way to becoming the driver of reforms on the Western Balkans. The government has just been restructured and the agreement on the most important parameters for local elections in Kosovo have been defined – so the signs are clearly pointing towards reforms and progress in the EU-integration efforts of Serbia”, State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said on the occasion of his meeting with the President of the Serbian Parliament, Nebojsa Stefanovic.
The meeting with Stefanovic revolved around Serbia’s rapprochement to the EU and the progress made in the dialogue with Kosovo. Following the historic agreement on the normalisation of relations that was reached in April, additional important progress has been made in subsequent rounds of negotiation; for example in the issue of telecommunication and energy supply. “It is precisely these practical issues that will make people’s lives easier that are so important for further normalisation of relations. The Western Balkans will only make headway on its European reform course, if it can rely on a strong foundation here”, Lopatka said.
As far as Serbia’s further rapprochement to the EU is concerned, the State Secretary is in favour of taking up accession negotiations soon. “In June, the European Council promised initiation of such negotiations, and the clear progress we witnessed during summer makes me confident that the go-ahead for the first accession conference will be given in a few months, but in January 2014 at the latest. The further EU rapprochement of Serbia and all the other West Balkan states is still a priority of Austria’s foreign and EU policy and will remain so in future”, the State Secretary said.
Contact:Federal Ministry for European and International AffairsPress Department Tel.: +43 (0) 50 1150-3320Fax: +43 (0) 50 1159-213 abti3(at)bmeia.gv.atwww.mfa.at