Friday

20th Apr 2018

Opinion

Serbia faces historic turning point

  • Serbian and EU flags. Lajcak was until recently the EU foreign service's top man on the Balkans (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Having visited Belgrade after its recent presidential elections, I returned home with a strong impression that once again Serbia finds itself at a crossroads.

The meetings with newly-elected President Tomislav Nikolic, with deputy prime minister Ivica Dacic, defence minister Dragan Sutanovac and foreign minister Vuk Jeremic have all revealed a strong consensus by the main political forces about Belgrade's European path.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It is time that this vision takes concrete form in the very near future. It is important for the people of Serbia, for the stability of the region and for Europe as a whole.

The news about the outcome of presidential elections in Serbia reached me - as well as almost all my European colleagues - in Chicago where we had been attending the Nato Summit.

The victory of Nikolic, until then the opposition leader, proved that the country's political landscape had become more complex and that the EU needs to be involved in an intensive dialogue with Serbian authorities and all political leaders from the very first moment.

We had an immediate exchange of views with EU high representative Catherine Ashton. A joint invitation by Baroness Ashton and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for the new Serbian President to visit Brussels is a confirmation that the EU wants to continue its open approach towards Serbia in line with the country's European future.

Serbia has gone a long way to becoming a candidate country for EU membership. Now it stands at an important point - the opening of accession negotiations.

Such a step would ultimately bring the European agenda to Serbia's politics and would make future EU membership a visible and tangible goal. Serbia is looking for same perspective as Croatia - now due to become an EU member in 2013.

This year could be a turning point in Serbia's European history.

In order to ensure the opening of accession negotiations, the criteria set by EU member states and the European Commission must be met. Reforms started during previous years must continue.

Slovakia as an EU member state stands ready to support Belgrade and share the lessons learned during the integration process. The European Union expects the new Serbian government to be fully focused on necessary reforms with EU integration as its ultimate goal.

Among the criteria, normalisation of relations with Pristina is given prominence. The issue of Kosovo is a very sensitive one in Serbian politics.

Many representatives have tried to find a balance between the national interest in European integration and this issue. However, this is no longer a progressive method. Full focus on accession to the EU will be necessary in order to succeed.

The process of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina - as agreed by the UN General Assembly resolution proposed jointly by the EU and Serbia in September 2010 - has so far led to agreements on various issues from the mutual recognition of university diplomas to regional representation.

The latter contributed to the fact that Serbia was granted candidate country status. Resumption of the dialogue, its continuation as well as the implementation of previously achieved agreements is necessary.

The EU has played a very important facilitating role in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and it should continue to do so as only the Union provides a perspective of shared reality to both sides.

A form or structure of the dialogue can be refined in order to make it more regular, to involve higher political representations, but the essence is clear - talks must be continued and they should result in agreements and their implementation.

Achieving a viable and functional situation in north Kosovo will be very sensitive for the parties involved. The international community expects Serbia's contribution towards this goal. We have to avoid creation of another frozen conflict in Europe, a conflict that would spoil chances of another generation to live their lives as European citizens.

Historical moments require leaders to take responsible decisions.

The new political reality in Serbia underlines the importance of a responsible approach of all relevant political forces. The decisions to be taken shall open a European chapter in Serbia's future. A broad political consensus will be the most important factor that can bring Belgrade - as an important part of the Western Balkans region and the European Union - to a new level of co-operation.

The writer is the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Slovakia

Serbia: deja vu no more

In a sign of gradual normalisation, Serbia's core concerns now mirror those of much of Europe, writes Dimitar Bechev.

EU must open its eyes to Balkan realities

The EU does not seem to understand the urgency of the situation in the Balkans, even though it has hundreds of diplomats and officials posted to the region, writes Jeton Zulfaj.

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

EU should ensure sustainable Cohesion Policy

As the EU Council kicks off negotiations over the post-2020 budget, ministers have have an opportunity to create a framework that will unlock innovative financing and scale up the citizen-led clean energy transformation

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  2. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  3. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  4. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  5. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  6. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  7. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  8. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeParabéNs! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  2. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  3. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  4. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  5. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  6. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  10. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector

Latest News

  1. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  2. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  3. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  4. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  5. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  6. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  7. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  8. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  2. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  3. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  4. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  5. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  6. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  9. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  11. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  12. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership