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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Serbia and Kosovo’s Relations Can Only Be Set Right Through Peaceful Discourse

12.08.2011

At his meeting today in Belgrade with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said Serbia should get the chance to begin accession negotiations with the European Union because Serbia has proven its dedication and desire to join the European Union, carrying out essential reforms and changes in its society. According to Paet, Serbia’s relations with Kosovo must be resolved through peaceful bilateral discussions.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that Estonia supports the start of European Union accession negotiations with Serbia if the European Commission’s progress report in October confirms that Serbia has fulfilled the necessary requirements. “Taking into account Serbia’s successful reforms and the initiation of negotiations with Kosovo, accession negotiations with Serbia should begin. It would give essential support to Serbia for making further reforms and finding a peaceful solution to relations with Kosovo,” he added. “It also gives an important signal to the entire Western Balkan region about the European Union’s openness and interests.”

Paet said that Estonia is prepared to share its own reform and accession experiences with Serbia. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet also spoke with Serbian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Božidar Delic about Serbia-EU relations and integration efforts.

While talking about Serbia-Kosovo relations and the conflict that arose at the end of July over border control issues, Paet said that the use of force and violence is not the answer. “You must continue having bilateral discussions and find a solution that way,” he added.

Serbian Foreign Minister Jeremic gave an overview of recent developments in the Western Balkans in general. Foreign Minister Paet noted that the European Union’s enlargement process with the Western Balkan states must continue in accordance with earlier agreements, and the countries that have made progress must be allowed to move forward with the integration process and reforms at the appropriate pace.

During his meeting with Minister of Economic Affairs Nebojsa Ciric, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet discussed opportunties to promote economic co-operation between Estonia and Serbia.

Paet asserted that Estonia’s economic relations with Serbia are considerably closer than those with other Western Balkan countries but there is certainly still room for growth. “We are interested in co-operating with Serbia in the information and communication technology sector. Many Estonian IT firms are interested in starting or expanding business in Serbia,” stated Foreign Minister Paet. “Estonia has also shared its experiences with Serbia in implementing a central framework for accessing electronic databases (X-Road) and given Serbia the necessary hardware,” he added.

Estonia and Serbia are also interested in co-operation in the energy sector, specifically the oil shale industry.

Last night Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Serbian Minister of Culture Predrag Markovic opened an exhibit of Estonian nature photos in Belgrade entitled “Seasons”. Paet said that the goal of the exhibit is to emphasise nature preservation and respect for the environment.


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