The European Union cannot discuss its future and European identity without Serbia, whose membership of the EU is a geopolitical interest, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in Bled, Slovenia, on Wednesday.
“We need Serbia because of geopolitics,” the Hungarian PM said at the Bled Strategic Forum, a panel focusing on the future of Europe.
“Serbia is crucial. Without Serbia as an EU member one cannot discuss security or European identity in general. We need Serbia’s membership in the EU more than Serbia does,” Orban concluded.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended the panel as the only representative of a non-EU country, along with six EU prime ministers, including Andrej Plenkovic of Croatia.
Vucic said that Serbia had been enthusiastic about its EU accession process, but “that enthusiasm no longer exists.”
“We have found our own ways to overcome economic problems and created our own mechanisms,” he said.
He stressed that his country continued to be fully committed to its European journey but that “it had to survive and improve its citizens’ living conditions.”
Vucic holds it against the EU, which he described “as the best place to live in the world”, that it fails to reward candidate countries’ progress when they meet some of the membership criteria.
“North Macedonia changed its name, it was given promises that the negotiation process would be launched, did it happen?” he asked in reference to North Macedonia’s name dispute with Greece and the fact that the launch of its entry talks is now being blocked by Bulgaria.
“I’m not complaining, I’m just stating the truth and we are aware of it,” he said.
European Council President Charles Michel said at the panel that the EU, aware that it had to be more visible in Serbia, had increased investments in that country, which Vucic confirmed.