19th Aug 2022

Serbian EU bid hangs by a thread, Rehn says

Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn has told Serbia to continue cooperating with the UN's war crimes tribunal in The Hague, or face suspension of the talks it has just started with Brussels on closer EU ties.

Mr Rehn made the remarks on Monday (10 October) while visiting Belgrade for the ceremonial opening of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association agreement (SAA) between Serbia and Montenegro and the EU – which represents a first step to possible future EU membership.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He warned that the SAA talks could be suspended at any time if Belgrade fails to co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), according to press reports.

The ICTY’s chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, has demanded that Serbia hands over war crimes suspects from the Bosnia war (1992-1995) to the court, and has only recently shown signs of satisfaction with Belgrade’s co-operation.

High on Ms Del Ponte’s list is the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, accused of genocide, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in Serbia.

Montenegro and Kosovo

On top of this, Mr Rehn told the leadership of Montenegro, which is currently tied to Serbia by a union, that its proposed referendum on independence should abide by international standards.

A three-year agreement on the united status of the two former Yugoslav republics will run out in February 2006, with a referendum on the cards for sometime next year.

The current SAA framework between Brussels and Belgrade covers both Serbia and Montenegro, but preliminary talks on the SAA were held separately with both countries.

Brussels fears that a break-up of the Serbia and Montenegro union will lead to destabilisation of Serbia, which also sees itself faced with a trend toward independence in the province of Kosovo.

Negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, currently a UN protectorate, are set to start shortly.

UN secretary general Kofi Annan has already informed the UN security council of his intention to start negotiations that will raise the questions of Kosovan independence and autonomy.

A Polish diplomat told EUobserver that Kosovo is the key to Serbia’s EU membership bid.

He said that Serbia would never agree to Kosovan independence unless there is a prospect of re-integrating Kosovo down the line via EU membership.

Slovakia's government stares into the abyss

When a pro-western coalition swept to power in Slovak elections in 2020, many saw it as the start of a new era. Yet fast forward two-and-a-half years, and the four-party coalition is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.


Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.


Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us