Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday about Serbia’s EU integration and the refugee crisis.
As Vucic said on Twitter, they also discussed Serbia’s “accountable attitude towards refugees”:
Angela Merkel said after the meeting that she was sure the latest agreements reached in the dialogue with Pristina will provide an “important impulse to Serbia’s progress in European integrations”, while Vucic “expressed his hope that (EU membership negotiations) chapters to be opened during this year.”
Merkel pointed out that substantial progress was made with the most recent agreements, which created a situation that contributes significantly to peace in the Western Balkans.
“These are courageous decisions taken by Pristina, but especially by Belgrade,” she said during a press conference with Vucic.
“I believe that these results will give an important impulse to the progress of Serbia in the EU,” she has been quoted as saying.
The chancellor expressed her satisfaction at having an opportunity to speak with Vucic again “after a short time,” and underlined that “Serbia is faced with a great challenge of the refugee wave.”
“Serbia, although not an EU member – but the fact is that refugees come to this country from one member state, and then reenter the EU – is particularly affected by this problem,” Merkel said.
She added that bearing in mind the problems of Serbia, Serbian Prime Minister must be talked with in a friendly manner on joint action.
As for the false asylum seekers from the Western Balkans, Merkel said there was agreement with Serbia that it, as a candidate country, is a safe country and its citizens are not entitled to asylum, but that “everything will be done so that young people in Serbia are given perspective.”
Vucic said that he will speak about EU integration today also in the German parliament and at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and that he expects the chapters to be opened “as soon as possible.”
“We hope that the chapters will be opened as soon as during the course of this year. We have performed difficult tasks, and will do them also in the future,” he stressed.
When it comes to false asylum seekers, Vucic said that “Serbia agrees with the German chancellor’s program that was announced, which foresees a reduction of financial assistance to those applying for asylum.”
He also announced that Serbia will pass a law that will strip those who seek asylum and are rejected of social assistance in Serbia. This, according to him, will drastically reduce the number of asylum seekers from Serbia.
Regarding the refugee crisis Vucic said that this was “the most difficult issue for the whole of Europe, which is not easy for Serbia either.”
He pointed out that there are “economic refugees, and they are persons from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and refugees fleeing the war in Syria and Iraq, who account for 70 percent of refugees in Serbia.” Serbia, as he stressed, has acted “accountably and in a European manner.”
Although it is not the first country on whose soil they stepp in Europe Serbia is the first to register and provided medical assistance to refugees, as well as medical attention to those in need, he said, and added Serbia was “awaiting for the final response of the EU.”
“For us it is not Germany’s problem, or that of any particular country or of the EU, but of all of Europe. We are ready to cooperate with all countries in the EU and to take our share of responsibility on this issue,” said Vucic, expressed his belief that Serbia will be provided with “serious assistance from the EU.”
Before Merkel’s invitation arrived, Vucic, said that Serbia had met all the “hard, difficult” conditions for the opening of the chapters with the European Union, and that he counts on and trusts “the German word” that this will happen.
“I won’t beg anyone for anything. I will say that Serbia has deserves, after the talks in Brussels, to be given the opening of the chapters, and I expect it by the end of the year,” Vucic earlier earlier.
According to a report in the Belgrade-based daily Blic on Sunday, Vucic received the surprise invitation from Merkel’s adviser during the day, despite the fact there were no plans to meet with her during his trip to Berlin.
In a Tweet he posted on Sunday, Vucic said that the topic of his meeting with Merkel will be “Serbia’s EU integration and the migrant crisis.”
Vucic will also visit the German parliament where he will address the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union, said a government statement quoted by Tanjug.
After this, the Serbian prime minister will take part in the Europa-Forum, which is organized by the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation. The topic of the prime minister’s speech will be “Serbia in Europe.”