Schroeder Optimistic About Serbia's EU Goals

On a visit to Belgrade on Thursday, Gerhard Schroeder said he believed that Serbia could join the EU by 2020, as its government was ready to undertake reforms “despite all difficulties on the pathway [to membership]."

EU membership "is not only the wish of the people but conforms with the mentality of the Serbians and their history - and this was also the vision of Serbia's late Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic,” the former Social Democratic Chancellor said.

“It is good that the new Serbian parliament comprises only parties that favour EU membership,” he added, referring to the outcome of the March 16 parliamentary election.

According to the former chancellor, the January start to Serbia's EU accession talks was a historic moment for both Serbia and the EU. Serbia became an EU candidate country in March 2012.

The former Chancellor said that Germany saw Serbia as the most crucial country in the Balkans, and the applauded Serbia for improving ties with other former Yugoslav republics.

“The outgoing government has improved relations with all countries in the region, particularly with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which the credit goes to Aleksandar Vucic [outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and likely future Prime Minister],” he added.

Vucic thanked Schroeder for visiting Belgrade, saying that Serbia faced a difficult reform path, but would meet all the requirements for EU membership.

“Serbia faces difficult times ahead, but the country has a secure future and everything is in our hands and it all depends on our work, readiness and diligence," he said.

"And, if we behave responsibly, we will have the support of Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German people,” Vucic added.

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