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A Two-Day Trip to the Western Balkans: Foreign Minister Schallenberg in Serbia

AUSTRIA, June 12 - On 13 June 2022, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg travelled to the Western Balkans for a two-day official visit. The trip began with a visit to Belgrade, where he met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, European Minister Jadranka Joksimović and Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković. The talks focussed on the effects of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the European prospects of the Western Balkan states. The visit was also intended to encourage dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg’s trip will continue in Kosovo on Tuesday.

During the meeting with his Serbian counterpart, Nikola Selaković, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg warned about the destabilising effects that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine can have on the entire Western Balkan region. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg argued that the EU must pursue a more geo-strategically focussed approach to enlargement. To accomplish this, the Foreign Minister together with EU Minister Karoline Edtstadler presented a “non-paper” to the EU foreign ministers and to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, at the end of May. The working paper proposes measures for gradual integration, for instance in the areas of energy, climate and research, as well as gradually increasing access to EU funds and EU decision-making.

We must make the EU enlargement process more palpable and focus on the concrete benefits of the process leading up to full membership,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, arguing for a closer relationship with the EU that will be rapid and tangible for citizens.

In addition, the EU must make it clear that the Western Balkans are an essential part of the EU family, urged Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

Alexander Schallenberg emphasised to his Serbian counterpart that Serbia – as the largest country in the Western Balkans – has a special responsibility regarding issues of European integration and in dealing with Russia. He welcomed the fact that Serbia had joined the overwhelming majority of the international community in condemning the Russian invasion during the General Assembly of the United Nations. Building on this step, Serbia should also join in the EU sanctions, said Alexander Schallenberg.

Particularly countries like Austria and Serbia, which are not part of a military alliance, know that equidistance is actually impossible when there is an attack on international law,

concluded Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.