The Minister for European Integration of Serbia, Tanja Miščević, said in an interview for Deutsche Welle (DW) that relations between Germany and Serbia have not deteriorated and that Serbia’s path towards the European Union definitely leads through Berlin.
Miščević, who had a series of meetings in the capital of Germany this week, said that Berlin is “very interested in Serbia, both economically and bilaterally – through large investments, a huge number of people who are employed in German companies, through bilateral aid which is annually definitely the biggest when compared to all other countries”.
“Germany is investing in Serbia precisely because it sees it on the European path and because it understands that European path,” she assessed and added that “Germany is also a role model for Serbia in many areas – from the rule of law and media freedom, through economic strength and stability, up to issues related to the green transition and energy diversification”.
When asked how relations between Belgrade and Berlin are today and whether they are worse since the coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals came to power in Germany, the minister replied that she did not think that relations had deteriorated, but pointed out that issues such as the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, strongly shape the relations between Germany and Serbia.
“And that’s not negative, on the contrary… The focus is now on dialogue, and other areas, reforms, are behind that as a topic,” she added, stressing that “one should not forget the new geostrategic situation caused by the war in Europe, the war in Ukraine, which is also one of the elements of the different attitude between Serbia and Germany”.
Answering the question of why Serbia does not impose sanctions on Russia and thus align itself with EU foreign policy, the minister emphasizes that this is only one of the elements of foreign policy and reminds that Serbia supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemns Russian aggression.
“We stood with the EU, but also with other countries, when a large number of resolutions were passed by the UN General Assembly, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, UNESCO… We are not neutral here. In this conflict, we are on the side of all those who observe very seriously the war in Ukraine, as a danger to the security of Europe,” Miščević said.
She added that she also faced these criticisms in the talks in Berlin. “We explained that there are reasons (for not introducing sanctions) related to dialogue, for complete dependence on Russian gas and oil. (…) And the third important thing is the emotional attitude of citizens who know very well what it means to be under sanctions,” she added. .
When asked about the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, Miščević said that “Serbia is always in favor of conversation and dialogue, but with very clear ‘red lines’: ‘no’ to recognition of independence and ‘no’ to membership in the United Nations”.
In an interview with DW, Minister for European Integration Tanja Miščević also spoke about whether Serbia lobbies against visa liberalization for Kosovo citizens, how it responds when faced with criticism of the “Open Balkans” project, and what she could hear from Croatian officials when at the beginning of January, she was in Zagreb, at the Christmas celebration organized by the Serbian National Council.