It’s clear that the EU can’t afford to import another unresolved bilateral conflict through enlargement, says the German Federal Foreign Office state secretary.

Speaking at the conference “Deepening of the EU’s Security and Defense Cooperation in a Multi-Speed Europe”, organized by ISAC in Belgrade on Tuesday, Marcus Ederer said that, despite the difficulties, he believed Serbia and Kosovo could solve their problems in a sustainable way and that both sides had an interest in doing so.

The German diplomat praised Serbia’s commitment to the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, adding that the EU hoped for progress in the process, perhaps as early as after Kosovo’s elections.

Ederer said that Germany’s messages to Belgrade and Pristina about the north of Kosovo and the Community of Serb Municipalities were unambiguous.

“We have made it clear to both sides that they can’t block each other’s talks in the EU integration process,” the German official said.

He underlined that the politicians in the Western Balkans needed to stand behind their words when they said they were committed to the EU integration, adding that they shouldn’t blame the EU if there was no visible progress.

Ederer said that it would be advisable for Serbia to bring its foreign policy close to the Union’s in the accession process.

“The EU doesn’t insist that the states of the region should suspend their traditionally good relations with other countries… We might be sensitive in the case of Ukraine though,” the German official said, adding that at the end of the enlargement process all members had to accept joint rules.

Also on Tuesday in Belgrade, Ederer was received by Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, when, according to the Serbian government, they “agreed today that the bilateral relations between the two countries are very good and that they are characterized by intensive cooperation in all fields.”

It was also noted that these relations are “characterized by regular high-level dialogue and constant improvement trend.”

An important segment in the relations between Serbia and Germany is economic cooperation, which is very good with the potential for further development and the tendency of growth of foreign trade, they said.

Dacic “expressed gratitude for the support and help of Germany in the process of European integration of Serbia, as well as the hope that that country will continue to advocate a proper valorization of Serbia’s reform efforts by the EU.”

Ederer “underlined that bilateral relations with Serbia are of great importance for Germany because Germany considers Serbia its most important partner in the region.”