Serbia's EU future requires solution for Kosovo: Austrian Chancellor
BELGRADE, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Austria is willing to support Serbia to open more negotiation chapters with the European Union (EU), Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said here on Monday, adding that ultimately the membership depends on resolution of the Kosovo issue.
He made the remarks at a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Vucic said at the press conference that he asked Kurz, who arrived in Belgrade for a two-day visit, for Austrian support on the European path, in order to open more negotiation chapters, noting that the necessary progress in the integration is for the benefit of the people, especially during Austria's EU presidency.
He said Serbia and Austria have good political relations and even better economic relations with trade exchange this year exceeding 1 billion euros (currently 1 euro equals to about 1.14 U.S. dollars), and showing prospects for a even greater growth in the future.
"I believe that Austria, which is among the most important investors here, can encourage investors to additionally invest in our country," Vucic said.
Kurz stressed that Austria, during its ongoing EU presidency, is investing all its efforts into getting the countries of the Western Balkans, especially Serbia, closer to the EU and that there is a joint dedication to opening additional chapters in the accession negotiations with Serbia.
"As a convinced European, I will say that the EU will become a whole, only when countries of the Western Balkans, and among them, especially Serbia -- become a part of it," he said.
However, he reflected that people in Serbia need to know that the membership in EU can only be realized once a solution is found for the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian southern province that unilaterally seceded in 2008, in a dialogue between Serbia and authorities in Pristina.
"From my angle it is of essential importance for this dialogue to be successfully completed and I ask people to support those politicians that are willing to go down this road. What matters to us is peaceful coexistence, to leave past in the past, and to have stability and peace in future and not destruction and war," Kurz said, pledging that Austrian government supports any agreement that will lead to a long-term solution.
Kurz also met Serbia Prime Minister Ana Brnabic before going to Pristina where he will talk with authorities in the province, and visit some of the 417 Austrian soldiers stationed there within the Kosovo Force led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).