The Strategist

Serbia Is the New EU Candidate


09/07/2015 - 15:39



Serbia will begin accession negotiations with the European Union until the end of the year. This was announced by EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. Brussels’ decision in relation to the key Balkan country's means EU returned to a policy of active enrollment the Balkans into their ranks. The growing influence of Russia in the region is called among the key reasons for this turn.



openDemocracy via flickr
openDemocracy via flickr
- The signals from the EU members countries say that negotiations on Serbia’s accession to the European Union will begin soon, - said EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the end of last week. Moreover, Johannes Hahn promised to personally make sure that this process with the "key country in the region" was launched before the end of 2015. He explained the reason of the decision: "Prime Minister Alexander Vucic participated in the celebrations of the anniversary of the tragedy in Srebrenica, constructive cooperation with Albania and, finally, the recent agreement with Kosovo".

The agreement, to which the commissioner referred, the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo signed in late August in Brussels. Its key point - the creation Serb Community of Municipalities in Kosovo, which will unite all Serb-majority areas, have their own management, the police and the flag. In Belgrade, the agreement was presented as a triumph, and Marko Djuric, in charge in the Serbian government of Kosovo, even announced that the match with Pristina "was won by Serbia with a score of 5:0". However, Pristina itself says that the powers of the newly created community are not sufficient to make it state within a state.

The main thing is that the Brussels agreement is not just an important step towards the normalization of relations with Kosovo, Belgrade. "Serbia has actually embarked on the recognition of Kosovo's independence", - said former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic. The representative of the EU in Belgrade Michael Davenport said: "Now it is not about the recognition of Kosovo by Serbia, but the full normalization of their relationship". Serbia will face the question of Kosovo's independence recognition, as has been hinted at Brussels, on the eve of the entrance in the EU.

So far, the EU gave the green light to start negotiations with Belgrade on accession. And it is not only a long-awaited signal to Serbia. The EU decision, experiencing satiety from expansion last years, means a return to the policy of active inclusion the Balkan countries in its ranks.

Diplomatic sources in one of the EU’s countries recognizes that the main credit for the "Brussels’ turn" is owned by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After her July trip to the Balkans, Belgrade and Pristina come to an important agreement, and Macedonian government and opposition have agreed to withdraw from months of political crisis. In addition, in late August, a conference in Vienna was held with the participation of both EU and the Balkans’ leaders, where the idea was also put forward by Germany. After the forum, EU has allocated € 200 million for infrastructure projects in the Balkans, the total European investment in the region will amount to € 600 million.   

The growing influence of Russia in the region is called among the key reasons for the renewed interest of the EU to the Balkans. This, in particular, was stated by Bekim Collaku, Minister for European integration in Kosovo to The Economist. In spite of some member states’ continuing dissatisfaction with the expansion, he said that "the delay would be costly" for Russia because of the influence growth in the Balkans. This thesis is indirectly confirmed by the struggle for Serbia, recently unfolded between Russia and the EU, as well as by intensified confrontation between them in other Balkan countries - Macedonia and Bosnia.

Moscow itself apparently reacted calmly to the new rapprochement between Belgrade and Brussels. The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said recently that "the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, along with the earliest possible start of negotiations with the EU, is part of Serbia's sovereign policy".

based on the Economist, Deutsche Welle's materials




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