Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte came for an official visit to Serbia today, where he met with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
At a press conference following the meeting with Vucic, Conte said that he fully supported Serbia on its path to the European Union.
“I have re-affirmed Italy’s support for Serbia’s aspirations towards the EU membership and our support for the efforts that President Vucic has been investing in achieving this goal. Italy will be an ambassador to Serbia and Serbian authorities regarding this issue”, said Prime Minister Conti at a joint press conference with the Serbian President.
“I am grateful to Prime Minister Conte for Italy’s support for Serbia’s European path and him saying that Italy’s will be Serbia’s ambassador on that course gives me immense satisfaction. Considering that we have been receiving mixed signals from the EU regarding the membership, such statement coming from an official from such a powerful country is of special importance, especially since Italy plays a stronger role in the EU and in the region,” said Vucic.
At the same press conference, Prime Minister Conte was asked by a Tanjug report about Italy’s stance on Pristina’s current policy, “which is not ready for any concessions, constructiveness towards Belgrade, or toward the international community”. He replied the following:
“I repeat, in my opinion, that unilateral initiatives launched by Kosovo lead nowhere. Their measures and the process are not leading anywhere. I think that the only way to expedite the road to the EU is to have a dialogue with all sides exhibiting wisdom. I stress once again, it was an exceptionally wise decision made by the Serbian government concerning (reaction to) Pristina’s measure.”
He added that he would talk with the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini about “future developments”, and about how Italy, “as an ambassador of Serbia in the EU, can realistically and concretely represent it.”
The Italian prime minister also expressed Italy’s strong support to the reform process in Serbia and added he was certain they would “contribute to accelerating negotiations with the EU.”
Conte recalled that Serbia and Italy were celebrating 140 years of diplomatic relations this year, as well as ten years of strategic partnership, and pointed out to “impressive relations and intensive external trade between the two countries.”
For the first time since becoming Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte visited the Western Balkans, and his visit to Serbia was his first bilateral visit to a European country this year so far.
Conte then had a face-to-face meeting with Brnabic, followed by a plenary meeting of the delegations of the two governments.
Ahead of the visit, Vucic told Italian news agency ANSA that Rome’s support was “crucial for the economy of Serbia, the European aspirations of our country, and the resolution of the Kosovo issue.”
According to announcements, during the visit, the Railway Infrastructure of Serbia Company and Italian Railways will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation.
The last time that an Italian prime minister visited Serbia was in 2012. Italy is one of the two largest trading partners of our country, with the value of the total annual external trade between the two countries exceeding 4 billion euro.
(Danas, B92, 06.03.2019)
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