Baerbock: Germany wants Serbia in EU but reforms needed

Tanjug/Zoran Žestić

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in Belgrade on Friday that Berlin wants to see Serbia in the European Union but warned that reforms in the field of rule of law are needed.

“We want Serbia to be a full member of the EU. We are convinced the Serbs have the right to life in our common home, that requires reforms in rule of law. We will support Serbia sincerely,” she told reporters after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

“We created the post of special envoy for the Western Balkans who will be my eyes and ears in the region and make sure the Western Balkans get the attention it deserves,” Baerbock said, adding that Germany will increase its presence in the region.

According to her, Serbia’s vote in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was received well in Berlin. “Our common values are peace, freedom and prosperity. Whoever shares those values can’t be on the sidelines,” Baerbock said.

She said that Serbia spoke clearly about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war adding that this was the clearest condemnation of war.

A government press release said that Baerbock and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic agreed that maintaining the peace and stability of the Western Balkans is crucial to the region’s progress.

Commenting a reporter’s question about Belgrade distancing itself from Putin, Vucic said that he does not know what Serbia should be distancing itself from. “What do we have to do with the conflict in Ukraine, what did Serbia do wrong? …. As for personal contacts, I had none with Russian officials so I don’t know what to distance myself from. … We supported the unacceptable violation of territorial integrity in the UN General Assembly,” he told the joint news conference.

Vucic said that Serbia’s position won’t change. “I want to say that Serbia did nothing to hurt Ukraine. Serbia is not causing any conflicts, threatens no one and will continue to behave responsibly. It’s OK if someone finds it easier to blame Serbia for everything but that does not really make sense and it isn’t fair. We have a very clear stand. I personally announced that hard decision which most of the public opposed and I did not hide,” he said.