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Giuseppe Conte, Italian Prime Minister

Sincere Friendship Binds Our Peoples

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With this mission I wanted to confirm the priority attention that Italy reserves to Serbia and also the importance of the stability of the European perspective for the entire Balkan region: the sincere friendship that binds our peoples and our countries even during the most difficult stages between Serbia and the West

Excerpt from His Excellency Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s speech delivered at a 6th March press conference during his visit to Serbia

In the meeting, as President Vučić remarked, which we had personally, I reiterated Italy’s convincing support to Serbia’s European path, and the appreciation for the determination and commitment that is put by President Vučić in pursuing this goal. I confirm it: Italy, my country, will be the ambassador of Serbian requests in the path – in the process- towards European integration.

We express, and I personally express strong support for the reform process which has begun: I said that we will stand by Serbia’s side and Serbia’s Government in the reform process started, and this process will individually contribute to accelerating that negotiation in the process of accession to the European Union.

With my visit to Belgrade today I also conveyed a clear message about the importance that Italy attaches to political and economic but also cultural relations with Serbia: it was also mentioned by President Vučić that this year we celebrate the 140th year from the establishment of diplomatic relations between Rome and Belgrade; 10th years from the consolidation of the strategic partnership

We believe that the path of reforms that were undertaken will prove to be coherent, credible and irreversible; and for this, I repeat, we will always have full willingness to support it. I also expressed strong support for President Vučić ‘s efforts to reach a compromise solution on Kosovo in the context of the Dialogue, facilitated by the High Representative of the European Union: in this perspective we believe that Pristina must demonstrate the necessary commitment to resume the negotiations also by revoking the measures on duties that have been introduced, as you will recall, unilaterally last November, and which affect Serbian products. This is not, we think, the road to a compromise solution that we strongly hope for. We are aware that Belgrade and Priština must explore all the room for negotiating available to them in order to define an agreement aimed at stabilizing and fully normalising their relations, so as to consolidate stability in the entire region. We are here, we want this area to live a prospect of peace, prosperity, and a common participation in European values.

With my visit to Belgrade today I also conveyed a clear message about the importance that Italy attaches to political and economic but also cultural relations with Serbia: it was also mentioned by President Vučić that this year we celebrate the 140th year from the establishment of diplomatic relations between Rome and Belgrade; 10 years from the consolidation of the strategic partnership. We have an intense commercial exchange, intense commercial relations; Italy is one of the biggest investors in Serbia with around 600 companies.

Italy, in 2018, was confirmed Serbia’s second commercial partner, the interchange exceeded 4 billion euros, and Italian exports recorded a 4.7% increase over the previous year. These numbers demonstrate how the cooperation between Rome and Belgrade is intense in many sectors: from infrastructures to the banking insurance sector, from textiles to the chemical and mechanical industries, and I am certainly convinced that my visit will contribute even more to intensify our commercial relations and to strengthen the cultural ties that already exist between our countries.

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