International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

"No EU for Serbia without effective Kosovo normalization"

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says any solution for Kosovo needs to be supported by major powers, particularly the permanent UN Security Council members.

April 4, 2019

He stressed that the citizens of Serbia "have to be aware that without the effective and comprehensive normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina there will be no accession to the European Union."

"It is in our interest to be in close partnership with the United States when it comes to the Western Balkans and to have their support in encouraging progress in reaching a solution to this important issue," Kurz said in an interview with the CorD magazine.

Kurz also said he "believes that countries like Serbia belong in the European Union."

"The European Union will therefore only be complete when the countries of the Western Balkans have joined. I have always supported the EU accession process of Serbia and the other countries of the region and will continue to do so," he said, adding that what happens in the Western Balkans impacts directly on Austria.

"On a political level, we are strong supporters of the accession of Serbia and the region to the European Union. This process requires a number of reforms, and we are happy to support Serbia in this regard. Under President Vucic, a number of important reforms have already been tackled," Kurz observed.

Asked if the EU accessions of Serbia and other Western Balkan countries had been temporarily removed from the agenda as a result of internal happenings within the EU, he replied, "certainly not."

As for the hostility between him and Serbian FM and Deputy PM Ivica Dacic, and if it had impacted on bilateral relations between Austria and Serbia, Kurz said:

"Austrian-Serbian bilateral relations are excellent, and both countries have an interest in maintaining the excellent quality of these relations. I regularly meet with President Vucic and my counterpart, Prime Minister Ana Brnbaic, and we have excellent personal relations. I have known Ivica Dacic for a long time and saw him just recently in Vienna."

He also recalled that Austria is among top investors in Serbia, with over 2.3 billion euros invested to date. "Our companies are interested in doing and expanding business in Serbia and investing over the long term," Kurz said.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=04&nav_id=106550

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