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Prague supports real opening of Serb EU accession talks this year

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Belgrade, Sept 1 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka yesterday assured his Serb counterpart Aleksandar Vucic that Prague supports the real launch of Serbia’s EU accession negotiations by the end of the year and he offered financial aid of 10 million crowns to Serbia to deal with the refugee influx.
“Serbia has made great progress on its way to the European Union,” Sobotka said.
He also offered assistance of Czech experts to Serbia in its dealing with the migration crisis and in the accession negotiations.
Vucic thanked for the offered help.
He said the number of refugees that have entered Serbia this year reached 115,000.
The refugees pass through Serbia on their way to Hungary and further on to the West.
Vucic said Serbia tried to help the migrants as much as possible.
He said that Serbia had a similar experience only a few years ago when it had to take care of half a million refugees from other parts of the former Yugoslavia.
Vucic said only dozens of the migrants applied for asylum this time.
He dismissed the information that he recently said that Serbia takes more European action than some other EU countries. “We are not EU members, I don’t want to harm relations with other countries,” Vucic said.
“We are not complaining, we try to help people… We’ve had the same problem and we don’t close our eyes. We don’t want to create problems,” he added.
Vucic said he can see no clear EU strategy for dealing with the migration crisis.
Sobotka said the EU must proceed jointly. “The worst thing that could happen would be if individual member countries started reacting in an isolated way to such crises,” he said.
The EU should act more quickly and effectively and deal not only with the developments on its territory but also with what is happening outside its border, with the conflicts that caused the migration crisis, Sobotka said.
He said the migration crisis is a strong reason why the European common foreign and defence policy should be reinforced because only with such a policy the EU can stabilise the situation in its immediate surroundings.
Sobotka said Prague wants to maintain the Schengen area of free movement without border checks.
The Serb and Czech delegations also talked about mutual trade and possible investments in transport infrastructure and energy industry.
Brussels formally launched the accession negotiations with Belgrade in 2014, but none of the 35 chapters concerned has been opened yet. No date has been set for the entry of Serbia so far, however, Belgrade would like to join the bloc in 2020.
($1=24.098 crowns)

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