Ivan Vejvoda and Lady Ashton in Belgrade. On February 18, GMF's Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), in cooperation with the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, hosted EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, along with other prominent representatives of civil society for a meeting in Serbia.
In a press conference prior to the discussion, Ashton said that dialogue with civil society is an essential element of the EU's engagement around the world. She highlighted that the EU believes the future of the Western Balkans lies in its eventual accession to the EU, and that commitment to reforms and their implementation is of the utmost importance.
Ashton welcomed Serbia's application for EU accession, and regarded it as proof of the Serbian government's commitment to EU integration and shared European values. Although, she stressed that cooperation between Serbia and the Hague tribunal remains central, she expressed hope that the next report by the Chief Prosecutor Brammertz will be as positive as the last one.
"Kosovo must be enabled in a pragmatic way to participate in regional cooperation initiatives," said Ashton, and emphasized that regional cooperation must move forward. She went on to praise the Serbian parliament's initiative to adopt a resolution stating its position on the Srebrenica massacres, noting that it was an important step toward "distancing from the crimes and ghosts of the past."