Analysts “moderately optimistic” about EU talks date

BELGRADE -- The EU should make decisions that should bring Serbia a beginning of the EU accession talks in January, March and June.

(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)

Analysts are moderately optimistic about the country getting the date for the start of the EU talks this year but stress that good relations with the Union are very important for Serbia’s economic development.

Former EU Integration Office Director Tanja Miščević believes that conditions for Serbia’s progress have been met.

“I think that all pieces of the puzzle have come into place, all the progress has been made so far with all the problems in terms of the implementation of European standards, harmonization of laws and their implementation, forming of regulatory bodies… Time has come to negotiate about the membership on such level. If you ask me, I think it could have been done earlier as far as technical readiness is concerned but political conditions have been met because all great issues that hindered the EU integration process are going in the right direction,” she noted.

A key condition for each further step is Kosovo. Serbia is expected to implement all the agreements that have been reached so far, primarily the agreement on the integrated crossings management. The issue of Serbian institution in northern Kosovo will be discussed this year. According to some sources, Germany is especially concerned about the existence of the Serbian institutions in the north of the province.

“It is difficult to make a general prognosis of what will generally happen in Serbia bearing in mind the difficult economic situation and a fact that we will be pressures by our needs to ask for money abroad, where we are going to find it and how we will solve our everyday issues. And when we add the issue of Kosovo and the EU integration, I do not think that anyone would like to make a prognosis as to what will happen,” former Serbian Ambassador to Germany Ognjen Pribićević has said.

Economist Vladimir Gligorov says that the EU accession is not a precondition for Serbia’s survival but that it was of crucial importance for the quality of the economic and social development. He added that Serbia had already tried to survive without the EU integration.

“If we learn from our experience, the answer should be that it would be good for Serbia to be as much as integrated as possible in its economic environment. The EU is dominant in that environment, this is a huge market, the biggest in the world, and even if this market has some problems, it will survive as a free, common market,” he explained.

“If it has decided to join the EU, Serbia needs to fulfill key conditions by spring,” Pribićević reiterated.

“The enlargement idea I unpopular in Germany, it is not realistic that Germany will be ready to be more actively involved or to give some support in this phase,” he added.

EU ministers should in March decide whether Belgrade should get the green light to continue the EU integration. The Serbian parliament should until then adopt a resolution on Kosovo and Prime Minister Ivica Dačić should continue dialogue with Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci on January 17.