Today, Foreign Affairs Committee Deputy Chairperson Vesna Markovic and Committee members met with Bundestag MP and rapporteur for the Western Balkans Adis Ahmetovic to discuss European integration, deepening cooperation between the two countries, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and regional initiatives.
Vesna Markovic reaffirmed that Serbia’s chief foreign policy goal is membership in the European Union, adding that cooperation with the Bundestag is very important for Serbia, as the parliaments of the EU member states are the ones who make the decision to open negotiations with the candidate countries as well as the decision on their membership in the EU. Intensifying cooperation would, naturally, lead to a better understanding, primarily of the National Assembly’s activities aimed in that direction.
Bundestag MP Adis Ahmetovic stressed he was very pleased and honoured to have been invited to Serbia, adding that this was his first official visit as a rapporteur for the Western Balkans. He cited the invitation of Vesna Markovic, immediately after his appointment as rapporteur, as the reason for his visit to Serbia.
Ahmetovic said that the cooperation between the two countries has been intensive in the past few years, pointing out that Serbia and the entire region should become part of the European Union and that his engagement is directed towards that goal. He said that the potentials of both Serbia and Germany are huge and that Germany has, through its companies, provided over 75,000 jobs in Serbia. He emphasised that Serbia is not a small country and that Serbia and Germany do not always have to share the same opinion on major political issues, what is always most important is finding compromise solutions.
He was interested in the MPs’ views on the Kosovo-Metohija issue, as well as that of Ukraine and Russia.
MP Dragan Sormaz answered these questions. He stated that he openly stands for Serbia's membership in NATO, although that is not the country’s official position. He added that relations between the two countries are at a very high level and that he supported the referendum and actively participated in the campaign for judiciary reform, which was one of the conditions set by the EU. He said that Serbia has been slowed down enough by the EU and that he sees no reason why all clusters should not be opened for Serbia, because that would speed up integration. He pointed out that Germany could support Chapter 31 relating to security, which would limit the space for propaganda that is not pro-European. He said that Serbia supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and is also the first in the region to have passed the law calling for the prosecution of persons who take part in wars as foreign mercenaries.
The Bundestag member was also addressed by MP Dubravka Filipovski who emphasised that, in addition to European integration, political stability and peace in the region are something that has no alternative for Serbia. She said that we currently enjoy the best cooperation with Germany we have had in recent history, expressing hope for its intensification. She also mentioned the abundant Serbian diaspora in Germany as an additional sign of the closeness between the two nations.
“The citizens' enthusiasm varies and with the opening of the last cluster, the rating of citizens in favour of joining the EU has risen, however the disappointment of Serbian citizens due to the stalemate in the European integration is still there", Filipovski underlined.
She spoke about the Brussels Agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, with the European Union as guarantor, saying that the Pristina side did not fulfil any of the provisions of that Agreement, i.e. that the Agreement has not been implemented. Speaking of national minorities, she added that Serbia expects the Serbian minority in the region to have equal rights and treatment as all the national minorities in Serbia.
MP Stefan Srbljanovic also addressed the guest, saying that he is also the Head of the Parliamentary Friendship Group with Ukraine and has had had many meetings in that capacity. He said that Serbia's position is to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and call for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, drawing on the experience the country has gained throughout history. He also stated that Serbia has shown that it is ready for compromise and dialogue on the Kosovo-Metohija issue, but that it will never recognise its independence and expects Germany’s support in finding a solution to the Kosovo-Metohija issue, as well as support of the Open Balkans initiative.
At the end of the meeting, Ahmetovic thanked his hosts for their openness and sincerity, stating that this is the only way to resolve open issues in the country, the region and Europe. He pointed out that, in addition to rationality, foreign policy has to do with sensibility and empathy. That is why, in addition to clear tasks, these aspects must always be taken into account. Finally, he added that the MPs should also take an even greater part in the European processes, because they are representatives of the highest legislative body.