BELGRADE / SARAJEVO – On the last day of his visit to the Western Balkans, von der Leyen participated in a ceremony to rebuild a section of railway in the town of Niš, Serbia, before heading to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The President of the European Commission and President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, visited Niš for a ceremony marking the start of the reconstruction of a railway section on the international rail corridor X and the signing of a contract for the construction of a section of motorway.
During the event, the current situation regarding the relations between Kosovo and Serbia was discussed. Vučić said the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was the basis of the negotiations from the start, adding that Serbia was committed to the dialogue, N1 reports.
“Any kind of destabilization, problems even if they are not important, create a huge problem for all of us in terms of attracting investors and the image of the country. It is in our interest to try to advance our economy and to work on the rule of law, ”he said.
Vučić said Serbia will not become a member of the European Union until it resolves relations with Pristina, but warned that there was still much to be done in other areas.
The European Commission president said Serbia’s brighter future lies in the EU, but warned that there is still a lot of work to be done on this path, especially to overcome the pandemic and boost economic recovery.
Von der Leyen’s last visit was to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she met members of the country’s presidency.
Earlier, von der Leyen opened a Svilaj Bridge over the Sava River, a new border post between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The ceremony also took place in the presence of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
An honor to inaugurate the Svilaj Bridge today.
It symbolizes the very essence of the European project.
Building bridges between peoples, countries and cultures, for our common future.
Because Bosnia and Herzegovina and all the Western Balkans belong to the EU. pic.twitter.com/fGy223P0vz
– Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 30, 2021
Von der Leyen also commented Reuters article announcing that the EU cannot guarantee the accession of the six Balkan countries. Responding to the question of whether this means that Brussels has given up on EU enlargement, von der Leyen replied that his visit to the region was undertaken solely from the European perspective and to be there to encourage countries of the Western Balkans, N1 reported.
“The Western Balkans have their place in the EU. It is in our common interest, but I believe it is also our destiny, ”she said.
Speaking on the progress of BiH, she stressed the need for “urgent progress in electoral and constitutional reforms”.