Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the resumption of association negotiations between the European Union and Serbia. Following talks with Serbia's President Boris Tadic, the Chancellor said that the new Serbian Government's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was a crucial step.
“We want Serbia to be an anchor of stability in the Western Balkans“, the Chancellor stressed. She welcomed the newly formed Serbian Government. The arrest of the former Serbian General Tolimir the previous night showed that Serbia, just like Bosnia and Herzegovina, was cooperating well with the International Tribunal. President Tadic affirmed his “firm political will“ to continue the cooperation with the International Tribunal in The Hague.
Tolimir was charged by the International Tribunal on the grounds of his alleged participation in the Srebrenica massacre. The European Union had made the continuation of negotiations on association with Serbia contingent upon the Serbian Government's cooperation with the Tribunal.
Serbia is counting on Germany's support
The Chancellor stated that the country's economic development is “of crucial importance“ for ensuring that people accepted an opening up towards Europe. President Tadic called Germany a “key partner for Serbia, both strategically and within the EU“. As the EU's largest economy, Germany was aware of its responsibility, the Chancellor stated. The German Government would therefore encourage German business to become more involved in Serbia.
Kosovo: differences of opinion and hope for compromise
The talks also focused on Kosovo's future. The Chancellor once more expressed her support for the adoption of a UN Resolution based on the Ahtisaari Plan. This Plan envisages autonomy for Kosovo with its own national symbols monitored by the international community. Tadic stated once more that Serbia would not accept Kosovo's independence. Nevertheless, he was hoping for a constructive “political process“ and saw scope for a negotiated compromise. Despite differing views on the Kosovo question, the Chancellor concluded, Germany supported Serbia's course towards the European Union.