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Working visit by Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn to Serbia

Published Wednesday March 29 2017

At the invitation of the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Minister for Immigration and Asylum of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, visited Belgrade, on Wednesday, 29 March 2017.

In addition to working meetings with his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dačić, Minister Asselborn was received by the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. Afterwards, he had a bilateral meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior Nebojša Stefanović, and with the Vice-President of the National Assembly, Veroljub Arsić.

The discussions provided an opportunity to assess the relations between the Grand Duchy and Serbia. While noting the excellence of these relations, new possibilities for cooperation, particularly in the economic sphere were identified during the meetings. In this context, the ministers welcomed in particular the entry into force, last December, of a bilateral convention on non-double taxation.

Ministers also held extensive discussions on the accession negotiations between Serbia and the European Union. The first negotiating chapters were opened in 2015 under the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.

In this regard, Minister Asselborn made it clear that Luxembourg continues to support Serbia's aspirations, explaining that the EU and Serbia share common interests - stability, security and economy - and common challenges - migration, combating unemployment, fight against terrorism and radicalisation. Welcoming the fact that eight negotiating chapters have now been opened and two have been closed provisionally, the minister encouraged the Serbian authorities to continue the process of reforms. He particularly welcomed the ambition of the Serbian authorities to proceed with the opening of additional negotiating chapters in the coming months. In this context, both sides discussed progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which, according to Minister Asselborn, "remains essential and will benefit both sides". Luxembourg will also continue its training program to familiarise the Serbian administration with the EU acquis.

Furthermore, the talks also focused on the migration situation. The Minister stressed that Luxembourg, as well as the European Union, will continue to support Serbia to meet the basic needs of the migrants it currently hosts. The two sides also took stock of the cooperation concerning migration flow management and Minister Asselborn acknowledged Serbia's constructive role in this regard.

At the same time, Minister Asselborn commended Serbia's efforts to reduce unfounded asylum requests by Serbian nationals. The Grand Duchy considers Serbia to be a safe country of origin and consequently international protection can in most cases not be granted to Serbian nationals. Those who submit unfounded asylum requests inevitably have to face return as soon as possible.

The discussions also focused on the regional situation and the relations between Serbia and its neighbour States.

At the occasion of Minister Asselborn's visit to Belgrade, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Grand Duchy and Serbia on police cooperation was signed.