24. April 2018

Serbian president: Belgian PM "brought new proposals"

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel "presented some new proposals concerning Serbia's European path." But, the president told a joint news conference with Michel in Belgrade on Tuesday - "I cannot say more about those proposals until they become a part of EU policy, and until some other factors agree with them." Vucic observed only that the said proposals "could be interesting in the future." "We spoke about the European road, and the most important topic is that we have the greatest hurdle on the road toward the EU, and that is the agreement that needs to be reached with Pristina," Vucic told reporters after his meeting with Michel. Stressing that this was "a difficult issue for us," he said he told his interlocutor that "Serbia is ready for compromise solutions." "There are no easy solutions. We are ready for difficult decisions, but there must be compromise from both, not only from one side," he specified. Vucic then stated that he and the Belgian premier spoke about different approaches to "certain solutions and problems" - but that it was "necessary for the region to top EU's agenda." He said that he "hoped there would be more encounters," and added that "the issue of Kosmet (Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia's official name for Kosovo) is an issue of the future." "Just as we managed to lower the public debt, the unemployment (rate), to have a (budget) surplus, I think we will have a chance to solve also the difficult political problems," said Vucic. He then said that "the importance of Belgium is much greater than the region even understands" - and that he was "grateful to the Belgian PM for thinking that Serbia should be among EU' priorities." "Unlike many others, Michel not only heard, but also listened to how we feel, what we think, and what is realistic to do in the future. It's hard for me to think of a conversation I've had, from which I learned so much," said Vucic. According to Vucic, the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is "an issue of our future, our youth, children..." and, "we need to be solving problems, so that future generations don't inherit them, as we have inherited the problems from previous generations." As for Serbia-Belgium bilateral ties, the president said that trade was "growing, and is now at EUR 542 million" - while the number of tourists coming here was "38.5 percent up" - and that he and Michel "especially praised" bilateral police cooperation" during today's meeting. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said he highly appreciated "the sincere and direct dialogue" with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and added that Serbia is considered "a key factor in the Balkans." "You are a key factor because you bear the importance of a regional dimension. You are extremely important for Europe and the future of the EU," Michel said at a joint press conference with Vucic, Tanjug reported on Tuesday. Michel said he was "among those European leaders who consider the region's strategic position as a top priority." "It was precisely because of the conversation with you that I could hear your arguments, positions to better understand your thoughts and motives. If important decisions are to be made, it is important that all parties essentially, not only superficially, understand each other," Michel said, addressing Vucic. He added that, "many elements are based on interpretation of history" - but that there must also be "a realistic look at these issues." "We talked a lot about trust and sincerity, I highly appreciate your open and direct tone. The talks were extremely useful, and this is very important for the coming period, and for the EU. The debate within the EU is very important. There are many processes that can be put to use in the coming months in order to make a step forward," said Michel. According to him, "it is necessary to grapple with difficult issues and political responsibility in order to solve all of that." "I highly appreciate the messages you sent regarding the rule of law, freedom of speech... Thank you for talking about it, and thank you for what you have done. The EU is not a project based on mere contracts, but on serious strong values ​​that are inscribed into the logic of peace, stability, democracy, security," Michel has been quoted as saying. The Belgian prime minister also said that the talks he and the Serbian president had in Belgrade "today and yesterday" had been "very fruitful - and it is very important, because I see how it is possible to further strengthen bilateral relations, commercial, economic cooperation, how to increase the potential for more investments." One of the topics was cooperation between the police forces of the two countries, which, as Michel noted, have been taking place "to the satisfaction of both sides." At:

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