Selaković thanked Malta for its principled support for EU enlargement

04. Oct 2021.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Selaković, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, Evarist Bartolo today.

At the joint press conference, Selaković thanked Malta for its firm and principled support for EU enlargement, which was also confirmed in its support for the opening of all negotiation chapters for which Serbia is currently ready.

Minister Selaković said that Serbia is interested in deepening and improving overall relations with the Republic of Malta.

"This is evidenced by the fact that we will open our consular office with the permanent presence of our consul in Valletta by the end of October, which was not the case before", said the head of Serbian diplomacy.

He conveyed that he talked with his colleague from Malta about numerous topics, such as the improvement of bilateral relations, cooperation at the multilateral level and on migration issues, the situation in the wider region, in the Mediterranean basin.

"We also talked about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, and even though our views differ, we can still talk openly about it", said Minister Selaković.

He stated that the economic and trade cooperation with Malta is at a low, symbolic level and that they agreed at the meeting to organize a business forum in the foreseeable future where our two business communities would assess any untapped potentials for further cooperation.

Minister Selaković said that today he heard a lot of nice things from his colleague from Malta about the Serbian community in Malta, which, according to official data, has more than 5,000 people working in that country.

Selaković emphasized that the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that country last visited Serbia 11 years ago speaks of the importance of today's visit.

"We agreed that the exchange of visits at the level of foreign ministers must be more frequent", said the head of Serbian diplomacy.

Selaković announced that he and the head of diplomacy of Malta would speak today at the 21st Belgrade Economic Forum, at a panel on the change in the balance of power in southern Europe.

Minister Bartolo said that Malta and Serbia have a common history, but more importantly, the future.

"We strongly support Serbia's integration into the EU, that would be good for Serbia, Malta and the EU, and we would like the EU to show more tangible support for this process. This process is slow and we must give stronger support to the integration of the Western Balkans", Bartolo said.

As he stated, the countries of the Western Balkans themselves contribute to the process of European integration, through the "Open Balkans" initiative as well.

He pointed out that this is only a part and that the integration must be full.

"We appeal for greater cooperation at the political and economic level between the countries of the region, but the EU must also provide more tangible support in the economic sense, because if you look at financial aid for members, it is 11 times more and we must reduce that difference", Bartolo said.

He also pointed out that it is very important for the EU not to forget southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa.

"We are concerned that not enough attention is being paid to southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa. We believe that the time has come to convene a conference on the security situation in Europe, such as the one held in 1975, and we believe that if we do not work together and do not cooperate with the Mediterranean and Africa, we will create problems that we will then have to solve", he said.

In the end, the Minister pointed out his satisfaction with today's conversation, highlighting as especially important the decision of Serbia to open a consulate in Malta, where it has, as he said, one of the largest emigrant communities, but also because of the agreement on recognition of vaccination certificates.

"Your engineers, doctors, pilots, your workers have made a significant contribution to Malta's national development, and that is something we do not forget and why we believe that by helping you we are helping ourselves", Bartolo concluded.