EU "ready to open first chapters this year"

BELGRADE -- EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in Belgrade on Friday that the organization she represents "sees Serbia's European future."


She stated that she was "ready for the first negotiating chapters to be opened this year."

"And my main message here is not only that Serbia is firmly on the path towards the European Union, but also that the Union is ready for the opening of negotiating chapters this year. It is of mutual importance," she during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Mogherini "thanked Vucic for his leadership, especially when it comes to the implementation of economic reforms, implementation of the agreement from Brussels, as well as the hard work in the field of European integrations."

"Be assured that I am personally ready and that the EU is ready to go the kilometers that are ahead of us together," she was quoted as saying.

When asked about her statement made in Pristina on Thursday about Serbia and Kosovo being "two sovereign states" - Mogherini said that it was made during "an frank colloquial exchange with students," and that she "mentioned the two sides in the negotiations," but that it was "not up to the EU to define the sides."

"I stated explicitly that five (EU member) states have not recognized Kosovo," said Mogherini.

She then "thanked Serbia for the manner in which it chairs the OSCE, and in its participation in EU missions around the world."

"The chairmanship of the OSCE is very important for the EU, we have good cooperation, and the government has indicated its willingness to strengthen this cooperation," said Mogherini.

Aleksandar Vucic said after the meeting that he and the visiting EU official "discussed all issues key to Serbia’s European path."

“We talked about all outstanding issues - the dialogue with (Kosovo) Albanians, economic reforms, reforms in the rule of law – in, I would say, an honest, open and in-depth way,” Vucic said, according to Tanjug.

"Federica Mogherini herself said today, answering questions, that Serbia is not being cut any slack. That's a ridiculous thesis. If we mean to achieve something, we will do it with hard work and a responsible approach," said he.

Speaking about the opening of EU membership negotiations chapters, Vucic sad he and the EU official today had "a frank conversations about that," and that there are "still some obligations that Serbia must fulfill."

"She showed the will and the desire for some chapters to be opened this year in order to demonstrate that she respects our work and European orientation," Vucic said, stressing it was "up to Serbia to meet its obligations."

He added he would "together with representatives of the Albanian state" knock on Mogherini's, and many other EU officials' doors in order to realize joint infrastructure projects, "roads and railroads."

"These are key issues for Serbia," according to Vucic, who added that "political and economic stability is most important for Serbia, so we will conduct such a policy."

He also noted that "Serbia would humiliate itself if it treated anyone in a bad and frivolous manner."

While in Belgrade, Mogherini also held meetings with President Tomislav Nikolic and with Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.