President Nikolic with Stefan Fule
BELGRADE - EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule arrived in Belgrade on Monday, with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic receiving him at the start of his visit.
Fuele stated that Brussels supports Serbia's EU path and underscored that there are three key priorities on that path, including the country's economic recovery and reforms, introduction of rule of law and normalization of relations with Pristina.
”A few days ago, we have celebrated the tenth anniversary of the biggest EU enlargement. And back in 2004, the EU integration of Serbia seemed like a very distant future. Nowadays, it is a very clear prospect, and I'm fully confident that Serbia has the ability to make this prospect a reality rather soon,” Fuele said.
Nikolic underscored that Fuele is a man who has in the course of his mandate changed the image of Serbia, clearly demonstrating his commitment and support to Serbia in its ambition of becoming a member of the EU and leading the others along the path.
”I do not expect the EU to stop the progress Serbia made in European integration in any way,” Nikolic said.
“This is a crucial period of the EU-Serbia relations and also an important chapter in the modern history of Serbia - a new chapter being written, a very European chapter. Serbia has made an impressive progress on its path towards the EU integration. It is very encouraging to see in the last election the Serbian citizens have supported parties with clear and also ambitious commitment to the EU integration,” the EU commissioner said.
The EU is fully committed to support to reforms in Serbia and it will step up its technical and expert assistance to this end, he underscored.
The Serbian president said that Fuele is a man who performed his duty as the enlargement commissioner at a time when Serbia has approached the EU very much and his reports contributed to a considerable extent to initiation of the talks and opening of the 14th chapter, and perhaps even the 18th chapter in near future.
He said that Fuele has come to Serbia to back the government and its program which may be very ambitious and unpopular but which in the next few years aims to liberate Serbia from the mistakes made in the past that left the citizens jobless and bereft of a future for the coming generations.
Nikolic underscored that he is very grateful to Fuele for everything he has done and underscored that he does not expect the EU to in any way halt the progress Serbia achieved so far.
Nikolic said that Serbia wishes to access the EU and this will happen when the EU establishes Serbia has met all the criteria.
”I know that by meeting the conditions we will make it possible for citizens to live in a well-organised country, a legal state, equal to the others, but for the time being, I do not feel that we are exactly equal to everyone in the EU,” he underscored.
Nikolic said that the EU needs people like the incumbent enlargement commissioner who would come to Serbia without prejudice or warrants the country is strictly required to meet.
”I hope that this is not the last visit during his mandate, and I know that this is not the last good move Fuele wants to make so that Serbia could win a place in the EU it rightfully deserves,” Nikolic said.
Fuele is the second senior EU official to visit Belgrade after the formation of the new Serbian government on April 27.
Previously, EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Catherine Ashton, who is also a Vice-President of the European Commission, paid a visit to Belgrade, expressing support to the reformist government and Serbia's European path.