Daily: Negotiations with EU to start Dec. 20

Serbia has been "given a signal from the EU seat" that the "green light" will be given in December for the official start of its membership negotiations.

Source: Večernje novosti
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The date of the first intergovernmental conference, which will mark the start of accession talks, has "in principle" been timed for December 20, the Belgrade-based daily Večernje Novosti is reporting.

The article is quoting unnamed sources to say that the opening of negotiations should be marked by Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, Minister in charge of EU integration Branko Ružić, and head of the negotiating team Tanja Miščević.

The EU would be represented by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, and head of diplomacy, Catherine Ashton.

After weeks of lobbying officials of "the two key countries - Germany and Britain" - Serbia has received assurances that there were great chances that the decision of the European Council would be positive, says the newspaper.

This was confirmed by the Ružić, who said that there was "great support" for the first intergovernmental conference to be held on December 20.

He believes that it is also favorable for Serbia that "the new coalition in Germany will not make a radical shift in policy towards the EU enlargement in the Balkans."

It is now speculated that if the second round of local elections in Kosovo passes without incident and irregularities, "one of the first decisions of the new German government may be giving the authority to Angela Merkel to on December 19 give the green light to begin negotiations."

In this case, the following day European Council President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso would announce a positive decision, followed by a meeting of the two delegations.

In Belgrade on Thursday, Parliamentary Committee for European Integration adopted a draft resolution about the role of parliament in the accession negotiations, confirming that the goal was full membership "in as short a time as possible."

The draft calls on the government, which is empowered to conduct negotiations, to do so responsibly and effectively, "taking into account the protection of national interests."

The resolution was supported by 11 members of the committee from the ruling and opposition parties, with the exception of MPs from the opposition DSS, who voted against.

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