Belgrade needs to side with EU if it wants membership, bloc expects all candidates to sanction Moscow, says Olaf Scholz.
Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday urged Serbia to adopt the European Union’s sanctions on Russia if it wants to join the bloc.
Serbia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas and oil, has faced growing pressure for its neutrality and reluctance to sanction Moscow.
In his meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Scholz said Belgrade must end its balancing act between the EU and Moscow.
He said Germany wants to make sure that the EU membership promise made to Western Balkan nations “two decades ago in Thessaloniki” is fulfilled.
“At the same time, we expect the (EU) candidates to join the sanctions against Russia,” Scholz said at a joint press conference in the Serbian capital.
“It is important that the EU and all of us show solidarity with Ukraine, to help defend it against aggression,” he said, adding that “as many countries as possible” should impose sanctions on Russia.
Germany, Scholz reiterated, is in favor of Serbia and other Western Balkan countries becoming members of the EU “as soon as possible.”
Vucic acknowledged that the German chancellor had delivered a “decisive, clear and sharp” message.
“Scholz asked Serbia in a very decisive, clear and sharp way to join the sanctions against Russia … (and) support the restrictive measures that the EU has already adopted against Russia,” he said.
On bilateral relations, Vucic hailed the growth in economic ties since Scholz came to power last December.
“Just in the first four months of this year, our trade has increased 25.7% compared to last year,” he said.