I. Korčok v Belehrade: „Nie je všetko len o kapitolách: musí byť jasná politická vôľa niečo urobiť.“
Korčok in Belgrade: ”It is not all only about chapters: there must be a clear political will to do something.”
The Slovak Republic is convinced that a concrete perspective for candidate countries to enter the EU pursuant to the recently published EU Enlargement Strategy represents a strong signal for the Western Balkans countries, as well as a clear message that the integration process is alive. However, it also clearly sets the expectations the EU has from these countries, including Serbia. This was said today (5 March) in Belgrade by Ivan Korčok, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, when speaking with Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Serbia.
“Slovakia is convinced that the EU enlargement process contributes to democratization of the EU neighborhood and to increasing the stability on the European continent. In light of this we also promote continuation of Serbia’s European integration process. It is in our interest to help those countries that can see their future in the EU. Progress in chapters 23 and 24 will constantly be in the center of the European Union´s interest, as well as the Kosovo issue, and I believe that Serbia is interested in finding a solution acceptable both for Belgrade and Pristina. However, it is not only about chapters: there must be a clear political will to do something in this regard. This doesn’t mean we want to push you into something; however, there must be no doubts about your serious interest to solve the matters," stated Korčok. As he emphasized, neither Slovakia nor the EU can or want to dictate to Belgrade the shape of the legally-binding document on normalizing the relations with Kosovo; however, without settling the mutual relations Serbia´s membership in the EU will not be possible. As far as bilateral relations are concerned, State Secretary Korčok stated that there are no open political issues between Serbian and Slovakia. Historically, our relations are good and now the task is to transform them also in the economic area. “We have a range of projects and areas in which we could intensify our cooperation, for example in infrastructure and energy. Slovak businesses are convinced that the business environment in Serbia is good but they would need to have greater access to the Serbian market. They would welcome more helpfulness from Belgrade in this regard," he said.
Economic cooperation with the emphasis on a greater opening of the Serbian market for Slovak companies was also tabled during the following talks with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. The volume of mutual trade has continuously been rising; however, there is still unused potential to be tapped, stated Korčok. The State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic also appreciated the pro-European orientation of the government of the Republic of Serbia and expressed the hope that during this half-year of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU more accession chapters will be opened. Serbia has currently opened 12 negotiating chapters and preliminarily has closed two – ranking it second among the candidate countries, right after Montenegro. “It is of key importance that the outcomes of having implemented the reforms and more progress in chapters 23 and 24 are visible; this will help support our argument that a state meeting the EU membership requirements and having a clear pro-European orientation has its place at the EU table," said Korčok while also appreciating the efforts in restoring high-level dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. They also touched on the positon of Slovak compatriots in Serbia and delved into some foreign policy and security issues.
On Monday Korčok also held a working meeting with Nenad Čanak, Chairman of the European Integration Committee, and Žarko Obradović, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. At the end of the day at the Slovak Embassy in Belgrade he presented Ján Bačúr, a renowned Slovak naive painter from Padina in Serbia, with the Silver Plaque of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic for his life work.
On Tuesday, State Secretary´s Korčok´s official visit to Serbia continues with a meeting with Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration, and a lecture to students of the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade on "EU’s Future - Slovakia´s and Serbia´s views".