European Western Balkans

Pittella in Belgrade: “Serbia deserves to start accession negotiations. Council should kick it off before end of 2015”

Gianni Pittella

At the end of a five day mission to the Balkan region, including visits to Albania and FYR Macedonia, the S&D delegation arrived in Serbia this morning. Here S&D Group President, Gianni Pittella, and Vice President, Knut Fleckenstein, met with Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, and the leader of the Democratic Party Bojan Pajtic.

S&D Group President Gianni Pittella, said:

“We urge the Council to open the negotiations for the accession of Serbia to the European family. First and foremost because Belgrade deserves it for the internal reforms enacted, for its role in fostering regional stability and last but not least for the great example of professionalism and humanity it has shown in managing the refugee crisis.

“The Presovo refugee camp that we recently visited shows that good organisation and tolerance, and sharing the burden of responsibility can be achievable and affordable. This is enhanced by the good will of all those involved.

“These efforts and commitments put in place by the Serbian government must be rewarded in order to avoid the detachment of Belgrade and of the whole region from the European project. The momentum, the will and trust in the European future for Serbia, may not last for ever.”

S&D Group Vice-President Knut Fleckenstein added:

“It is in the interest of the whole of Europe to finally stabilise the region in political and economic terms. We must ensure that fundamental European values are respected and that the whole of the region reaches EU standards regarding the rule of law.

“We welcome the improvement of the relationship with Kosovo, encouraging both sides to widen the dialogue for the benefit of both the Serbian and Kosovan communities.

“We are also very satisfied about the development of the cooperation between Albania and Serbia in political, economic and social terms, as demonstrated by the recent youth exchange programme. This is a small step in the right direction.”

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