ISSN 2330-717X

EU Diplomat Predicts Candidate Status For Serbia

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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.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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