Ana Brnabic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, said on Friday her country remained a reliable partner to Brussels and was deeply committed to the European integration despite all the challenges the European Union was facing, the Beta news agency reported.
Brnabic added her Government expected three billion Euros in direct foreign investments this year, saying that showed Serbia as a safe business environment since the highest results were achieved in the country’s economic reforms.
“The EU will face enormous challenges this year with Brexit and the European Parliament (EP) elections, she told the National EU Convent meeting.
In turn, she said, that would decrease the interest for enlargement, “but Serbia must continue with reforms and their implementation.”
However, Sem Fabrizi, the head of the EU Delegation in Serbia, told the gathering that regardless of the (EP) elections and a new budget, the block won't drift away from its priority to welcome new member states.
“I encourage Serbia to remain ambitious and dedicated to Euro-integration, and the EU will do its part of the job,” Fabrizi said, adding the Balkans was going in the EU direction but cautioned that was not a fast process and “it needs the energy of entire society.”
Jadranka Joksimovic, the European Integration Minister, said the latest survey in December showed “stable support of the EU” among Serbia’s citizens.“It’s a particular pleasure to see people support the reforms, regardless whether they are linked to the European integration or not,” she said.
Referring to the Thursday’s visit to Belgrade by the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin, Brnabic said the event would not impede Serbia's relation with the EU.
“Our foreign policy is transparent and honest, and Brussels is aware of our traditionally good links and economic relations with Moscow,” Brnabic told reporters.
She added that, on the other hand, Russia knew that Serbia’s strategic goal was the EU membership.
Ahead of his visit, Putin said Moscow, unlike some Western capitals, did not put push Serbia to choose between Russia and the EU.
Earlier on Friday, a historian said Russia needed Serbia for its influence in Balkans.
Milivoj Beslin said Russia was isolated, under the international sanctions over its annexation of the Crimea and the support to local Russians’ rebellion in eastern Ukraine and needed Serbia for own interest.