Serbia is not Europe’s “backyard”, but its “living room”, and it must get even closer to Europe, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said in Belgrade on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Kern said that, in a time of many challenges – especially for the Balkans – he was very appreciative of Serbia’s efforts to maintain regional stability, Tanjug reported.

Vucic said that Serbia hopes to receive continued support from Austria on its path towards the European Union, and expressed his gratitude to Austria for the assistance that our country receives in solving problems with the migration crisis.

Serbia expects additional help and support in this area, and stressed that Serbia sees Austria as a friendly country that offers it huge support towards the EU, adding that “Serbia and Austria are connected in so many areas, noting that Austria always wants to hear and understand the problems, not only of the Serbs, but of the entire Western Balkans.”

This is not always the case when it comes to many other countries in Europe because they all have their problems, he said according to the government, and reiterated gratitude to Kern for the readiness of Austria to address the problems of our country and help as much as it can.

Some things have changed, and today we solve problems through partnership, without looking for a reason to be against each other. We insist on the preservation of peace and stability in the Western Balkans, Vucic said and conveyed gratitude to Austria for everything that this country is doing towards achieving this goal.

He said that today he delivered to the Austrian chancellor a “paper” in English on the Western Balkans that is not completely which contains only the principles of a free trade market and a customs union within the CEFTA region.

He explained that this idea aims to bring our countries and territories in the Western Balkans and facilitate the flow of goods.

“I already had first consultations with the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina Denis Zvizdic and Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama and I will continue to talk to everyone in the region. The richer we are, it will be better for us,” said Vucic, adding that it was his personal idea and initiative.

“It is about infrastructure projects that should connect the people and the region, and creation of a duty-free union, which I think is a good way to improve the situation in the region,” Kern said.

He said that he talked with the representatives of many Austrian companies, that have confirmed readiness to continue with their investments in Serbia.