Remarks With Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
February 26, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: I think it’s still morning. Yes, good morning. I’m very happy to welcome the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Serbia and to welcome Ivica Dacic here to Washington at a time when Serbia is taking on an increasingly important role in many respects. First of all, they are assuming the chairmanship of the OSCE. And this comes at a really important time given the Minsk agreement, the efforts that we are all making to try to see that agreement implemented. And under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Dacic, we will all be looking for accountability in the process of trying to stabilize Ukraine, the eastern part of Ukraine, and see if we can’t get on a different road. The OSCE observation/observer status is absolutely critical to our ability to know which side, both sides are adhering to the agreements, and so we welcome the assumption of this responsibility.

We also welcome the fact that Serbia has taken the step of moving towards EU accession. This is very important. It will require a process of reforms and engagement. We certainly look forward to working with Serbia in that endeavor.

And finally, while there are many other issues, most importantly, Serbia has exhibited great leadership in helping to engage seriously in the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue and in helping to reach an agreement that really could begin to move us on a road towards the longer-term stability that we have all sought in that relationship. We know it’s difficult and we know there are complications, but we applaud the fact that most recently there was a meeting with the EU High Representative Mogherini. There was a successful outcome of that dialogue with important next steps taken.

So my pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Dacic here. Very, very appreciative of the fact that he’s taken the time to come here, and I look forward to our dialogue. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DACIC: (Via interpreter) Thank you. It is my great honor for me personally, but also for the Republic of Serbia, to have this opportunity to talk today with the Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry. Serbia dedicates great attention to bilateral relations with the United States, especially in a time when Serbia is chairing a very important organization – international organization, the OSCE.

We – as the chairmanship-in-office, we will be fully committed to the principles and commitments, having in mind that Yugoslavia was one of the founders of the OSCE, and we will invest maximal efforts to contribute to have on this OSCE region and the whole (inaudible) from Vladivostok to Vancouver to bring about peace and to coordinate all our actions.

In line with this, we will have consultations in various places within the OSCE structures. In order for us to draw and make adequate steps today, we will discuss not only the OSCE topics, but we will also touch upon some bilateral issues. And it is my great pleasure to have our bilateral relations advancing and going upwards, and I think that it is very important to renew the strategic partnership, which dates way back. Because for (a) hundred years now, our diplomatic relations – our diplomatic relations have been established 130 years ago. And in line with this, it is going to be my distinct pleasure for – to invite Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. Kerry, to come and attend a Ministerial Council meeting in Belgrade in December this year.

I will not miss this opportunity to say that we are extremely joyful and happy due to the fact that we will see more frequent visits and the dynamic of our relations extend and expand. And I have to say that we cannot even remember who was the last president of the United States who visited Serbia. I think that this was Mr. Ford. And due to this, I think that it would be very good and beneficial for our relations to advance, because we want Serbia to be a factor of stability and peace within the region, to resolve all the outstanding issues with its neighbor in a diplomatic way and through dialogue. And we will invest our maximum efforts and our full capacities and to demonstrate responsibility as the chairs in the OSCE, because the OSCE and the world is facing this great crisis, and the whole world is watching what the OSCE, with its capacities, can do in this regard.

So these kinds of consultations with you are of great importance, and I’m very thankful to you for accepting to meet me. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.