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J. Joksimović and Lutterotti: Austria actively supports regional cooperation in the Western Balkans

February 28 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović and Lutterotti: Austria actively supports regional cooperation in the Western Balkans

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has talked with the Austrian Ambassador Nikolaus Lutterotti about the continuation of Serbia's European integration and cooperation between the two countries in Serbia’s accession process, bilateral relations, the situation in the region and on other topics.

Ambassador Nikolaus Lutterotti has delivered a letter of invitation to Minister Jadranka Joksimović, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, and the Austrian Minister for Europe, Karoline Edtstadler, inviting her to the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna this March. At the Summit, the European future of the region, as well as the future of the EU, will be discussed, which will be a good opportunity to exchange views on topics of common interest - especially regarding the enlargement policy, in light of the new proposed, revised methodology of the negotiation process. Moreover, the upcoming EU-WB Summit in Zagreb will also be discussed, as well as the ways to improve regional cooperation. Lutterotti has stressed that Vienna will continue to support Serbia's European integration process as it has done so far.

The Minister has thanked him for the invitation and stressed the importance of such a high-level conference, at which Prime Ministers and line ministers will participate.       
Joksimović has said that the most important thing for Serbia is to hear how the new methodology – if Serbia would accepted it – would be applied to its negotiation model, so as to not diminish the results achieved so far.

Serbia also expects see the Advanced Economic Plan as an additional pillar of the methodology, which will be presented before or during the EU-WB Summit in Zagreb and should define financial incentives for the region. The Minister has also stressed that Serbia is the only country to have had an obligation to prepare a Special Action Plan for National Minorities under Chapter 23, which can certainly be a model for other countries that are negotiating.     

The Minister has also stressed the necessity of having a clear perspective on a credible enlargement policy and the European future of the WB.

Jadranka Joksimović has also noted that a credible EU enlargement policy should allow for greater funding for the development of IPA 3 Programme for the 2021 – 2027 perspective, as well as for the WBIF - the Western Balkans Investment Framework, but to also make room for additional investments in respect of priorities of sustainable development and the Green Deal for the region.  

Jadranka Joksimović has stressed the importance of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) in the implementation of EU grants worth EUR 19.5 million, intended for the realisation of projects in the segment of socio-economic development of the Danube Region. The largest sub-project, with a total value of EUR 9 million secured under two National IPA Programmes, was the reconstruction of Golubac Fortress - which was officially opened in March 2019. She has also specified that, under the framework of the socio-economic development of the Danube Region, Austria has provided EUR 1 million in grants to local self-governments, regional development agencies, tourism and non-governmental organisations for projects aimed at developing the Danube Region in Serbia.

The Minister has also recalled that Austria is a country which has, through the implementation of its Twinning projects, provided significant support to the Serbian public administration in the implementation and enforcement of EU legislation, in the areas of justice and internal affairs, agriculture and environment.

The interlocutors have assessed that the bilateral relations between the two countries are at a high level, which is confirmed by the fact that Austria is one of the leading investors in the Serbian economy. They have also agreed that there is mutual willingness to intensify the overall cooperation.

Source: Tanjug