BELGRADE — Serbia’s Deputy PM Božidar Đelić and Greece’s Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis said on Thursday Serbia will have Greece’s support on December 9.
That is when EU leaders are expected to decide on giving the country the status of candidate for membership, and a date for th start of accession talks.
“It is very important for Serbia that it has a true friend in Greece, and the friendship is founded on a shared history and common interests,” Đelić said at a news conference after a meeting with Labrinidis.
Đelić thanked Greece for standing by Serbia during its most difficult times, and expressed belief Serbia can count on its support in the coming months, which are of key importance for Serbia’s European future.
Lambridinis said Greece will work on ensuring Serbia gets EU candidate status in December and a starting date for accession talks.
As an EU member country, Greece insists on the fact Serbia must fulfill the necessary requirements for joining the EU and our friendship does not change the fact the requirements must be met, he said.
According to him, even though many European countries are currently facing a crisis, the biggest mistake the EU could make right now would be to close its doors to new members after Croatia’s 2013 accession.
Right now is the time to intensify talks which will bring in new members to the EU, Lambridinis said, expressing belief Serbia has a European future and that this is in the interest of both Belgrade and Brussels.
The two statesmen also discussed Agenda 2014, the Greek initiative for the entire region’s EU accession.
Đelić said he asked the Greek minister for help in the debate on the EU’s 2014-2020 budget, in order to keep IPA and other funds, such the Connect Europe fund, proposed by the European Commission, from being cut, as they could help Serbia build the necessary Pan-European infrastructure.
On Wednesday, Lambrinidis also met with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremić.
After the meeting with Jeremić, the Greek foreign minister said that Serbia deserved to be given the EU candidate status and that it would get support from Greece to that end.
The Greek minister underlined that the position of Greece on the Kosovo issue remained unchanged. His country is one of five EU member-states that have not recognized the unilateral declaration of independence made by ethnic Albanians in early 2008.
After Belgrade, Lambrinidis will pay a visit to Priština on Thursday and confer with Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
He is also scheduled to visit the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Gračanica, located near a Serb enclave in central Kosovo.