European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn will visit Serbia on September 9 and the Serbian authorities consider the visit as an opportunity for "serious talks and easing of the situation" in the region that has lasted for several months, including the position of EU member Croatia on Serbia, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Thursday.
"We want our message to be heard too. Serbia wants peace and stability in the region, those are preconditions for economic growth. We want to talk openly with Commissioner Hahn about all issues, to send a message that it is not possible for an EU member-country to say that Serbia and Serbs are a bunch of losers," Stefanovic said in an interview with Radio-Television Serbia.
Asked what Belgrade expected from Brussels, considering its dissatisfaction with the EU's reply to Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic's letter in which he complained about tensions in the region and Croatia's attitude to Serbia, Stefanovic says that "Serbia expects a clear position from the EU."
"We want to be open about what we have been thinking and to openly and rationally discuss the facts that have happened. You cannot say that our people are 'a bunch of losers', that is not a good message. I would like to hear answers about that," said Stefanovic, objecting that the EU was financing some Belgrade media that were critical about the situation in Serbia, sometimes to such an extent that the credibility of their reports was denied by some international institutions.
Asked if Serbian ministers and government officials would continue to refrain from comments on messages and statements from Croatia, Stefanovic said that "all will respect the Prime Minister's decision not to respond to acts of provocation."
"We will not respond, not because Serbia is powerless but because that is a good policy. However, we will also not allow Serbia to be humiliated. I believe that the Prime Minister will tell Commissioner Hahn face to face what he thinks," Strefanovic said.
He added that Hahn would attend a Serbian government session on Saturday and that among its topics would be policy chapters 23 and 24 in Serbia's EU entry talks, noting that the ministries of justice and internal affairs had made "significant progress."
"The rule of law and the related reforms are an important step forward and an important strategic goal for Serbia," Stefanovic said.