"Serbia must recognize Kosovo before joining EU"

German MP from the ranks of the SPD party Dietmar Nietan says Serbia was "not under obligation" to join the sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia.

Source: Tanjug

It would be "arrogant" to expect such a thing, he told Deutsche Welle.

Asked whether a candidate country for EU membership could be punished by halting its accession negotiations unless it implemented EU's foreign policy, this member of German parliament's Foreign Policy Committee replied that it would be "an arrogant policy towards Serbia as an independent state."

"Maybe it is good that Serbia has good relations with the Russian Federation. It could be thought about from the opposite perspective, where Serbia could help to open up channels of communication between the EU and Russia. The special relationship between Belgrade and Moscow can be a European advantage," he said.

Nietan added that he did not think it was "a problem" that Serbia could use the space on the Russian market created with the ban on EU imports, and that such cooperation can be opposed "only by those who are already against Serbia joining the EU."

According to him, the situation would be quite different if Serbia did not recognize "the integrity of Ukraine or supported the annexation of the Crimea."

Serbia, according to this German politician, could be ready to join the EU in five years' time at the earliest, and when asked whether the country would receive an explicit demand to recognize its southern province, Kosovo, as independent, Nietan answered: "Yes, this demand must come, but only at the end."

"When accession negotiations come nearly to the conclusion, a leap will be demanded from Serbia: whoever is in power in Belgrade in five or six years' time, will be put before the inevitability that EU membership is possible only with a recognition of Kosovo. We will see what that recognition will look like."

Nietan also criticized as "arrogant and inappropriate" a list of demands CDU party MP Andreas Schockenhoff delivered on behalf of Germany, containing seven conditions put before Serbia, "which is a sovereign state." He pointed out that, in the meantime, the ruling coalition in Berlin had changed, and the Social Democrats have "a somewhat different, more constructive attitude towards Serbia."

Asked whether PM Aleksandar Vučić enjoys "some sort of bonus" in Berlin as "a model student" when it comes to relations with Priština, Nietan acknowledged that, "given the nationalist past of the SNS party," there were concerns about a possible deterioration in relations between Belgrade and Priština.

But he said that Vučić "positively surprised him" by showing that he was part of "the constructive forces". However, noted Nietan, Vučić must prove himself anew all the time.

Politics

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