By Marija Ristic
The EU ambassador in Belgrade expects Serbia to be granted candidate status at the upcoming EU heads of state meeting in March.
“The conditions for EU membership candidate status that Serbia needs to fulfill are clear and achievable,” Degert said on Thursday at a conference entitled “New regional policies and European experiences” held in the Serbian parliament.
According to Degert, these requirements include continuing to implement agreements reached in dialogue with Kosovo, further progress in regional cooperation and for international forces to be able to do their job throughout Kosovo.
The last point refers to attacks on peacekeepers in northern Kosovo at the hands of locals in a Serbian enclave.
In his view, Serbia has taken important steps in implementing reforms and will be able to do more when it obtains candidate status.
“When EU grants Serbia candidacy, new funds will become available and Serbia will be able to use EU resources for the purposes of agriculture and social inclusion,” Degert noted.
The ambassador said that as EU moves forward and develops, the enlargement process would continue in the Balkans.
“We want all the countries in the region to develop on their paths towards full EU membership. We want this part of Europe to be stabilized and integrated into the EU,” Degert said.
Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, has said that the Council of the European Union will decide whether to give Serbia candidate status in February, while the final word will come from the EU heads of state meeting in March.
At the last meeting of members of the European Council in December, EU leaders postponed a decision on Serbia’s EU candidacy bid.
Concerned about continuing problems between Serbia and Kosovo, and about violence in the Serb-run northern fragment of Kosovo, it was decided that EU foreign ministers needed first to “examine and confirm that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress in moving forward with the implementation in good faith of agreements” with Kosovo.