27 November 2018 The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Italian Ambassador to Serbia

27 November 2018 The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Italian Ambassador to Serbia

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Regional Stability and Peace – Priority

The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic met today with the Italian Ambassador to Serbia Carlo Lo Cascio to discuss cooperation between Serbia and Italy and the current situation in the region.

Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic said that the two countries’ relations are at a high level and that Italian film, music, sports, as well as politics enjoy a high status in Serbia. He added that these are accompanied by excellent economic cooperation and that he hoped political cooperation would be tighter since apart from the difference in opinion on Kosovo-Metohija, the two states enjoy excellent relations.

Obradovic also spoke about the events in Pec which have been shaking Kosovo-Metohija the last two days, adding that these incidents could surprise only the uninformed. He said that the separatist movement has been in operation since 1968 and it is the Albanian, Macedonian and Kosovo-Metohija politicians’ clear ambition to set up one state and that such a re-arrangement could have a very negative impact on the Balkans and the whole of Europe which it is a part of. He said that Federica Mogherini, as the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has a tough three-pronged test to tackle - dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, reaction to Pristina’s customs tax raise for Serbian products and the policy pursued by Ramush Haradinaj. He said that EU not reacting on it could be seen as a reaction which will have a negative context with the Serbian public, that is a drop in the proportion of people who want to join the European Union, because it does not apply the postulates it is based on. Obradovic said that dialogue is the only way to ensure stability in the region and find a sustainable long-term solution must be found.

H.E. Lo Cascio agreed that the two countries enjoy excellent relations and that they do agree on some things when it comes to Kosovo-Metohija viz. Italy supports the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as the only viable solution and way to maintain stability in the region. He said that he understands some EU member states may be cautious, but Italy believes that the two sides should be given room to talk and find a sustainable solution and does not expect the situation to deteriorate. “We appreciate the efforts the Republic of Serbia is putting into the talks and the responsible manner in which it has taken the 100% customs tariff in Kosovo-Metohija.” He added that maintaining the status-quo does not lead to a solution, a compromise needs to be found to be able to find a solution to the problem. The Ambassador added that Brussels is also hard at work to make sure Serbia opens three new EU negotiation chapters and Italy believes both in Serbia’s reforms and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He added that the Union itself has some difficult issues to resolve such as Brexit and maintaining the EU’s credibility in the Balkans.

Obradovic said that, as far as Serbia is concerned, no EU negotiation chapter will be a problem except for Chapter 35 because it is a question of Serbia’s past, present and future. He thanked Italy for its support for the dialogue, which he opined has no alternative.

The officials also spoke about the Italian parliamentarians’ upcoming visit to discuss overall cooperation and current issues with their Serbian counterparts. The Ambassador said that he would broach the issue of setting up a friendship group with Serbia at the Italian Senate and arrange a visit for Serbian parliamentarians to the Italian Senate.

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