On an official visit to Bucharest on Thursday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated in a press conference at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace that he has asked Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, “a highly respected dignitary in the EU and U.S.,” to support the finding of a compromise solution in what concerns the recognition of the independence of Kosovo. In his turn, President Iohannis stated that a solution that satisfies everyone 100 percent will never be found, but politicians must find a solution that reasonably satisfies the parties involved, a solution that is fair and in line with international rules, and he declared himself willing and eager to get involved in the discussion in order to find this solution.
“We discussed Serbia’s European aspirations, Serbia’s road toward the European Union, how Romania can support Serbia. And it can! We discussed our experience on this road and how we can be of assistance,” Klaus Iohannis stated.
He pointed out that the Kosovo issue is complicated. “It’s complicated and I believe solving the Kosovo issue will represent an enormous step in the European direction for the whole Western Balkans region, and we will remain in close touch to jointly discuss also the potential solutions and the role that Romania can play in solving this issue. We are willing, I emphasise, we are willing to get involved in finding some good solutions for the whole region,” the President went on to say.
“Today we talked, firstly, about the future, about our future relations, and I am grateful to President Klaus Iohannis and to the Romanian people for the support that Romania offers to Serbia’s European road, for the desire for a compromise to be reached in what concerns the Kosovo issue. What is certain is that Romania did not recognise the independence of Kosovo. For us, the Kosovo issue is a very big issue, but we will try to find a compromise solution. To find this solution, minimalist goals are needed,” President Aleksandar Vucic stated in his turn.
He expressed his conviction that, during its presidency of the Council of the EU in 2019, Romania will include the EU accession of Western Balkans states among the top issues it will tackle.
Answering a question, President Aleksandar Vucic stated: “I have asked President Klaus Iohannis, because he is not only the president of the largest country in our region but also a highly respected dignitary at European level. I have informed him of the talks I have had with Mrs Angela Merkel, I have informed him about the talks on finding a compromise. I have asked him to help us reach a compromise, and the president has a good reputation in European countries, in the United States, and I have asked him personally – but also Romania as a state – to help us find a compromise solution. I will repeat one thousand times more that it is impossible for some to get everything and for the other side to lose everything. I believe both sides must receive satisfaction, I believe that is a fair solution,” the Serbian President emphasised.
President Iohannis underscored in his own turn that Kosovo is a central issue not just for Serbia but for the whole region.
“It has a very special valence not only in the European path of Serbia, but of the whole region generically called the Western Balkans. I do not have a patented solution I could place on the table, and I believe nobody expects that either, but I very much want for a solution to be found, because all European officials were very clear in this regard: Serbia’s accession to the EU will take place only when the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo is clarified and clear. On the other hand, all European officials and I have emphasised that we want the Western Balkans region to become part of the EU within a reasonable time horizon, and so it is clear that without a solution to this problem there will not be significant progress,” Iohannis stated.
The Romanian President pointed out that a solution cannot be imposed from the outside, but it can be discussed with the relevant actors.
“Any solution that were to be found, it must be fair or ‘a fair solution’ as the English term is, that satisfies all sides as much as possible. I cannot imagine a solution for Kosovo that is refused by the Serbs, just as I cannot imagine a solution for Kosovo that is refused by any other interested party. A solution that satisfies everyone 100 percent will never be found, but what politicians must do is search for a solution that reasonably satisfies all sides, a solution that is fair and in line with international rules, and I expressed my willingness and eagerness to get involved in the discussion in order to find this solution,” Klaus Iohannis added.
President Iohannis: Relations between Romania and Serbia are very good, going to be even better
The relations between Romania and Serbia are very good and they are going to be even better, President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday, in a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, at the Cotroceni Palace.
“The relations between Romania and Serbia are very good and they are going to be better. We are optimistic about that, because we will both get involved to make them better. (…) We obviously discussed the bilateral relationship, what measures would be needed to stimulate the economic relations between our countries. Serbia is our main partner in the Western Balkans and it is a growing economic relationship. (…) Our trade totalled 1.3 billion euros, double the volume we had five years ago,” said Iohannis.
He mentioned that he discussed with Vucic about the interconnections between the two countries.
“We discussed about the interconnections between the two countries, both in energy and transport, very important links also for the economic relations between our countries, but also for citizens who want to visit the other country or do business,” Iohannis said.
The President said he had discussed with his counterpart also about the Romanian community in Serbia and the Serbian community in Romania.
“We have obviously talked about the Romanians in Serbia and about the Serbs in Romania, I am talking about our minorities, who have a very important role in strengthening the bridge between our countries. It is important to know that steps have been taken in this respect and important steps will be further taken. I underscored (…) the need for a more intense cooperation between specialists. Mr. President informed me that a person who represents Serbia in the Joint Commission on national minorities has been decided,” Iohannis said.
In turn, Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia and Romania are “tied by a traditional friendship.” He added that the authorities in his country would strive to help the Romanian community in Serbia.
“With regard to the situation of the Romanian community in Serbia, we will strive to do important things. (…) We will deal both with the Romanian-language media and with the education of children from the Romanian minority. Of course, we will not disappoint Mr. President in this respect,” Vucic said.
He also spoke about the importance of “improving economic relations” between the two countries.
“We discussed about the Danube River, about the Danube strategy. (…) I think this approach, the collaboration on the Danube, would be important,” Vucic mentioned.
Iohannis: We’ll still have migrants, no one must think the migration flow will stop
President Klaus Iohannis also underlined during the joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart that there will still be migrants at the border between Romania and Serbia, pointing out that so far there have not been any problems between the two countries in this respect.
“We’ll still have migrants, no one must delude oneself that the migration flow will stop. It won’t and that is why very clear procedures are needed at the border area. (…) I am positive that increasingly more efficient collaboration will be found. (…) I believe there is no problem between Serbia and Romania in this respect,” Iohannis said in a joint news conference with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, on an official visit in Bucharest.
Iohannis added that he asked Vucic to also talk to Romanian government officials about continuing and deepening collaboration in this field.
“We continue to have persons with a migrant status who are trying to cross from Serbia to Romania. The collaboration between the border police authorities of the two countries, between the police, the ministries, existed from the very beginning and I believe everybody noticed there were no crisis situations at the Serbian-Romanian border. Still, at the same time, I’ve asked Mr. President that during his talks he’s going to have today at the Romanian Government’s seat to resume this dialogue, so as to allow a continuation and a deepening of this collaboration,” Iohannis stressed.
In his turn, Aleksandar Vucic asserted that the two countries’ authorities have had “a very correct collaboration” in this matter.
“Our Interior Affairs ministries do have a very good collaboration. We are to sign some agreements, but I believe that as far as this matter is concerned, our collaboration is good, yet it could be improved. (…) Serbia used to be an area where very many migrants stationed, and yet very few of them have reached the Romanian border,” the Serbian president stressed.
Serbian President when asked about Sebastian Ghita’s extradition: I’ve sent the question to the Justice Ministry and will receive an answer today
At their joint press conference on Thursday, President Klaus Iohannis and President Aleksandar Vucic were asked whether they discussed ways to hasten the extradition of former House lawmaker Sebastian Ghita, who was captured in Belgrade almost a year ago. The Serbian President pointed out he forwarded the question to the Justice Minister and was to receive an answer later that day.
“We did not discuss this, but then I found out you wanted to ask this, and I asked the President, who told me he does not know, but the courts are definitely deliberating, and we will have a verdict in this issue. He could not tell me more, I do not know more either, I do not believe it is the job of the Presidents to personally handle the issue of those running away from Romanian justice,” President Iohannis stated.
President Vucic stated: “I do not have a lot of data in this sense, but the judicial bodies are handling this issue. When the President asked me this, I forwarded the question to the Serbian Justice Minister, so I will receive an answer to your question later today.”
So far, three arrest warrants have been issued on Sebastian Ghita’s name – the first in the dossier concerning the visit that former British Premier Tony Blair paid to Romania, in which ex-Premier Victor Ponta is also being criminally prosecuted, the second in the corruption dossier in which the ex-lawmaker is prosecuted for influence peddling, money laundering and the set up of a crime ring, and the third in the dossier in which he is indicted for corruption alongside former chief prosecutors and police chiefs from Prahova County.
Detained in Belgrade on 13-14 April 2017 and then placed under pre-trial arrest, businessman Sebastian Ghita was released on bail on May 26, in line with a decision taken by the Serbian Supreme Court, after posting a bail of EUR 200,000. Ghita’s passport was confiscated and he is not allowed to leave Belgrade.
The businessman is waiting for a decision on the extradition request that Romanian authorities have filed. When caught by the Serbian authorities, Ghita had a Slovenian ID and driver’s licence on him and was accompanied by his brother.
Viorica Dancila – Aleksandar Vucic meeting tackles interconnections in transport, energy
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila had a meeting on Thursday with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, on an official visit to Romania, with whom she discussed the topic of interconnections in transport and energy.
According to a press release of the Government, Viorica Dancila and Aleksandar Vucic addressed issues of common interest, such as the stage of bilateral co-operation, including at sectoral level, the process of Serbia’s accession negotiations with the EU and the recent developments at regional level.
“On this occasion, the President of the Republic of Serbia launched the invitation to the Romanian Prime Minister to pay an official visit to his country,” the press release reads.
At the same time, the level of political dialogue between Romania and Serbia was appreciated, as well as the upward trend of the bilateral economic and trade relations. In this context, support measures for business people from the two countries were discussed.
Also discussed were elements related to government policy and policy promotion at bilateral level, as well as the promotion of gender equality in the central and local government.
“The two high officials have extensively discussed the issue of interconnections in the transport and energy sectors, essential in the near future for the two economies, in ensuring energy security and the proximity of the citizens of the two countries. In this context, the possibility of resuming railway traffic on Timioara-Varset route was discussed”, the release informs.
According to the cited source, the meeting also addressed issues related to cooperation in the field of urban infrastructure, supporting the growth and regional development poles and capitalizing on the potential of bilateral agricultural cooperation, topics that are also on the agenda of regional cooperation and the one related to the Danube Strategy.
“Prime Minister Viorica Dancila reconfirmed Romania’s firm political support for the European path of Serbia and the willingness to share our country’s experience in the negotiation process with the European Union,” the release said.
At the same time, Premier Dancila welcomed the appointment, on both sides, of the chairs of the Joint Minority Commission.
Viorica Dancila also expressed the need to continue the dialogue on the Romanian minority in Serbia, using the existing bilateral mechanisms.
Senate’s Tariceanu : I reaffirmed Romania’s support for Serbia’s EU accession
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu on Thursday, as part of the schedule of his official visit to Romania. The talks centred on aspects of the bilateral cooperation, Serbia’s European path, and the outlook for enhanced European Union commitment for the Western Balkans.
According to a communique issued by the Senate Speaker, the talks also tackled topics such as recent regional developments and the importance that both states confer upon the protection of national minorities as a factor of democratisation with significant impact on regional stability.
Tariceanu reaffirmed Romania’s support for Serbia’s accession to the European Union, pointing out that Romania understands the importance of a stable and prosperous Western Balkans region and will support the continuation of the European Union’s expansion process in defining the priorities on the European agenda when it will take over the presidency of the Council of the EU.
“In Serbia’s EU accession process, Romania is carefully watching bilateral aspects that have to do with the observance – at standards adopted by the EU member states – of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities,” the Senate Speaker added, according to the communique.
According to the same source, the Senate Speaker said he wants Serbia to adopt school textbooks in the languages of national minorities, to ensure better access to media in the languages of national minorities and the adequate participation of national minorities in the public sphere, and a first step in solving these aspects would be the resumption of the works of the Romanian-Serbian Mixed Intergovernmental Commission on the situation of national minorities, which last convened in 2013.
Likewise, the two officials also focused on the bilateral economic cooperation, the transport and energy interconnectors being considered strategic projects of great importance for the development of the whole region.
Dragnea: I talked with the Serbian President about the Romanian community
House Speaker Liviu Dragnea stated on Thursday that he talked with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about infrastructure projects, but also about the Romanian community in Serbia, stating that he will go to Belgrade in the following period.
“I had a very good meeting with President Aleksandar Vucic, with whom I have a very good relationship of friendship. We discussed several topics that are important for both Romania and Serbia, namely the expressway link between Timisoara and Belgrade, but not only this project, (…) but also about a great connection project Constanta-Bucharest-Belgrade-Slovenia-Croatia-Italy, an expressway and a high-speed train. Likewise, [we discussed] about the natural gas interconnector, about oil transmission, the Constanta-Pancevo oil pipeline, about resolving some small disagreements at the Iron Gates,” House Speaker Liviu Dragnea stated.
Liviu Dragnea stated that he talked with President Aleksandar Vucic about the Romanian community in Serbia.
“Among other things, but a very important topic, [we discussed] about the situation of the Romanian community in Serbia, especially in the Timoc Valley, and the President promised several very important issues, that the Romanian-language programmes broadcast by the local channel in Bor and by the national broadcaster will grow in duration, and a process of introducing the Romanian language in the educational system will start, with both of us set to make efforts so that a meeting between the two churches – the Romanian Church and the Serbian Church – would take place,” Dragnea said.
The House Speaker said he will visit Belgrade in the upcoming period.