Serbia: Bonino, Italy beside Belgrade for Europe

Efforts on Kosovo, reforms to be recognized. Yes to talk' date

18 June, 12:59

    (ANSAmed) - BELGRADE, JUNE 18 - Italy believes Serbia made a huge effort and obtained extraordinary results as far as dialogue with Pristina is concerned, domestic reforms and regional reconciliation, and will therefore ask the European Council at the end of June to immediately schedule a date to start EU membership talks. With this message Italian Foreign Minister will travel Tuesday to Belgrade where a round of talks with top Serbian officials are scheduled in the afternoon.

    In a long interview published Tuesday by Vecernje Novosti, Serbia's largest-circulation paper, Bonino stressed the excellent state of bilateral relations with Serbia which she said are a priority for Italy.

    'There is no doubt Serbia can continue to count on Italy's full support', the foreign minister said. 'Belgrade plays a strategic role in the wider regional context and I believe the Serbian government is seriously engaged in a coherent process of reforms'.

    'Progress made in the past few months - in particular results of dialogue with Pristina mediated by the EU - would have been unconceivable only a year ago', added Bonino, observing that the agreement on Kosovo on April 19 is a fundamental turning point in the recent history of the Balkans within a European prospect, starting 'an irreversible process'. 'For all these reasons we expect the European Council at the end of June to recognize Serbia's efforts, deciding to open membership talks. Italy, which before others and more than others has believed in Serbia's return in Europe, will play its part till the end to reach this result', said Bonino, and 'will ask to set the date for the beginning of negotiations'.

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