Merkel enigmatic on Kosovo envoy; dialogue after elections; Brnabic for Serb-Albanian reconciliation
The Serbian prime minister and Merkel spoke during a working lunch
The prime minister and Merkel spoke during a working lunch, after which they addressed the media.
MERKEL: CONTINUE PROCESS OD SOLVING KOSOVO ISSUE
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today after her talks with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic that the process of solving the problems of Kosovo and Metohija should be continued and further improved in order to reach a solution.
Merkel said at a press conference that she also discussed with Brnabic the situation in the region and cooperation, and stressed that she was glad that the Berlin Process has proven to be very useful and has led to great opportunities and activities for cooperation.
She stressed that there is good bilateral cooperation between the two countries and that there are 400 German companies with 60,000 workers operating in Serbia, while that Germany is a significant trading partner of Serbia.
"We have very close relations and I would like to emphasize that Prime Minister Brnabic is not dedicated only to combating unemployment and to the growth of Serbia's economy and a digital transformation," said Merkel, adding that Serbia is leading the way in digitization, which is a good signal to young people.
She said that she and Brnabic also discussed civil society, the judiciary and the difficulties in that area, as well as constitutional reforms.
"I see the will to improve things and this is closely related to the progress in the EU accession process," said Merkel, pointing out that Serbia has made a lot of progress and that a lot has been done when it comes to opening negotiation chapters.
Her message was that Germany as a partner will continue to support Serbia's development and the strengthening of German-Serbian relations and cooperation.
ON SPECIAL ENVOY
The German chancellor stated today she could not say anything about information that has emerged that Germany and France could appoint a special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
Merkel said that Germany and France have tried, and are still trying, to restart that dialogue, as well as to do something about the taxes Pristina has introduced on products from central Serbia. She recalled that the process has been interrupted and stressed that the continuation of the dialogue would be discussed again after the elections in Kosovo.
"So far it hasn't been possible to establish dialogue because of the taxes," Merkel said.
BRNABIC: THREE IMPORTANT ISSUES AT MEETING WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR
The prime minister of Serbia said in Berlin today that the Kosovo-Metohija issue is the only point of misunderstanding and disagreement between Serbia and Germany, but that it's important to discuss this topic, because without a long-term sustainable solution to the issue and without reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians there will be not be a different future for the Balkans.
"The issue of Kosovo and Metohija is certainly the only point of disagreement and misunderstanding, but to us Germany is one of the most important partners and as much as we may disagree on some issues, the most important thing is to talk to Germany, to hear opinion and advice, to present our position and to see if together we can bring our positions closer and come up with a long-term sustainable solution," said Brnabic.
The prime minister of Serbia stressed that without such a solution and a historical reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians there would not be a different future for the Balkans.
Brnabic pointed out that it was, first and foremost, important for the sake of young people, and said that everyone should work together, with the support of Germany, the EU and other international partners.
"I know that we can build a more beautiful, better and more prosperous Balkans for everyone," Brnabic said at a joint press conference after her meeting with Merkel.
When it comes to EU integration, the prime minister said this remains Serbia's primary path, and that she today asked the German chancellor for support.
"We know what we need to do to accelerate that path. We spoke today about how far we have come and what more we should do," Brnabic said.
ON STRENGTHENING ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Speaking about the economy, Brnabic said that cooperation between Serbia and Germany is excellent in this field, adding that about 400 German companies employ 60,000 people in our country, far more than all other foreign investors in Serbia.
"Germans are good employers, not only important for job creation but also important because they bring knowledge, new technologies, management processes, work ethics, business ethics, everything that changes our society. That is why with this visit we want to launch a new wave of German investments," Brnabic underlined.
She said that according to a survey carried out among German employers in Serbia, as many as 83 percent of companies are satisfied with doing business in Serbia and have plans for expansion.
She added that most German companies in Serbia are made up of large companies, and that it's time to attract SMEs.
"As much as 90 percent of the German economy is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises. They are the basis of the German economy. That is why I think it's time to attract German SMEs," said Brnabic, adding that German entrepreneurs have shown interest.
Brnabic noted that Serbia has recorded good results in the last five years, stating that, according to the Financial Times, it has already twice been the world leader in attracting foreign investments; the unemployment rate has dropped from more than 25 percent to 10.3 percent, public debt has fallen to 52 percent of GDP, last year our country received 3.5 billion euros in foreign investment, and in the first seven months of this year, 2.3 billion.
The prime minister stated that youth unemployment remains high, at 24.4 percent, adding that this is another reason why SMEs must be given attention.
BRNABIC AHEAD OF THE MEETING: I DON'T EXPECT "LOOSER POSITION" OF GERMANY ON KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Asked whether she expects Germany to take a "looser stance" on the issue of demarcation as a possible solution to the Kosovo problem, Ana Brnabic said she did not expect any quantitative shifts during the meeting.
"I'm not running away from the reality that Germany and Serbia disagree on some issues, but it's very important that we hold top-level discussions on a regular basis. Of particular importance is the continued commitment of Chancellor Merkel to the Western Balkans and the integration of our entire region into the European Union," the prime minister said in an interview with Telegraf.rs.
Video: Merkelova svečano dočekala Anu Brnabić u Berlinu