Vucic to reconsider skipping Summit in Tirana, Varhelyi: We need Serbia


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was prepared to reconsider his decision on skipping the Western Balkans leaders’ Summit in Tirana made in response to Pristina’s decision to appoint Nenad Rasic Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns and to the European Union’s (EU) reaction to Pristina’s decision.

“Varhelyi told me that he spoke to (Serbian Prime Minister) Ana Brnabic, she said the EU believes it is very important for Serbia to be represented in Tirana,” Vucic told a media conference following talks with European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi.

Vucic said he personally “sees no point in that”, but added: “I am prepared to listen. Ana thinks it is important that we be in Tirana. I told Varhelyi that it’s nothing to do with my vanity and with something I said, I don’t have a problem with us reconsidering that decision, canceling it, if I see there is a chance for us to say something.”

The President added that Brnabic and Varhelyi believe that “it is better that we be present and say everything.”

Varhelyi: We need Serbia’s presence in Tirana

Commissioner Varhelyi told the media conference following talks with Vucic that Europe is at a key, if not even “at a critical junction” and that the past months have shown that EU enlargement attracts attention, but that the European continent is also seeing major political destabilization.

Now we are responsible for meeting the expectations and maintaining the momentum, because the enlargement process is among the top three priorities of the EU leaders, said Varhelyi, stressing that this is precisely why the Summit in Tirana is held.

“This is exactly why we have this Summit next week in Tirana, when our leaders will for the very first time come to the region. We need everybody to engage, and we need Serbia to be at the table, and we need the leader of Serbia to be at the table,” said Varhelyi.

He said the public attention to the relations between the EU and Serbia and the enlargement policy was enormous. The situation with Ukraine has shown that the only long-term solution for peace and prosperity is EU membership, stressed Varhelyi, adding that three countries applied for EU membership immediately after the beginning of Russia’s aggression.

The Commissioner said work must be done together on long-term and strategic ties.

Energy and migrations urgent topics

Varhelyi said he also discussed with Vucic two urgent topics – energy and migrations, and that he was bringing good news regarding energy.

The energy crisis knows no borders, and affects the Western Balkans as well, said the Commissioner, adding that this is why the EU reacted quickly and created an energy aid package that will mobilize at least 2.5 billion euros for the region.

The second part of the program will focus on investments that should change the energy picture of the Western Balkans, said the Varhelyi.

“We need a new plan,” he stressed, adding that energy transition, new energy routes and sources need to be promoted.

The EU Commissioner said he also discussed with Vucic ways of putting an end to irregular migrations in the region, and described them as a security threat both for the EU and for Serbia.

Commissioner Varhelyi met Thursday evening with Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Dubravka Djedovic and European Integration Minister Tanja Miscevic, and with Serbian deputy Parliament speakers and heads of opposition MP caucuses.

Following his meeting with the leaders of the opposition in the Serbian Parliament Varhelyi wrote on his Twitter account that the EU stands by Serbia “to continue on its EU path and support further reform progress.”

“Credible enlargement policy is a top priority based on fundaments: rule of law, fighting against corruption, fighting against organized crime,” Varhelyi wrote on Twitter next to his photo with the representatives of the opposition in the Serbian Parliament.