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news 10 Dec 12

Serbia Unlikely to Start EU Accession Talks Before June

EU foreign ministers will recommend that Serbia gets a start date for EU accession talks in six months.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia will not get a date for the start of the EU accession negotiations until the next steps in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue are made, says a document that the EU foreign ministers should adopt on Tuesday, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

"The Council will review progress in the high-level dialogue in spring 2013 with a view to decide in June 2013 on the opening of accession negotiations provided that all the above issues have been dealt with in a satisfactory manner," the draft decision reads.

The draft decision is due to be adopted at the General Affairs Council meeting on EU enlargement in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU ministers will prepare for the European Council meeting scheduled for December 13-14 and in particular discus the draft conclusions to be submitted to the EU heads of state or government.

Serbia obtained EU candidate status in March and has been hoping to get the start date for accession talks by the end of this year.

Normalization of relations with Pristina is the key precondition for Serbia's further progress on the EU path.

On December 3, the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee hailed Serbia's progress in dialogue with Kosovo and urged the European Council to "set a date for opening accession talks with Serbia" as soon as possible.

This came after Serbian and Kosovo PM met for the third time in Brussels and agreed to put a border deal into action.

The European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, Jelko Kacin,  said that the start of the EU-Serbia negotiations is very likely to be determined in March or June 2013.

“At the moment, there is no decision of the European Council and the member states are still harmonizing their joint views,” Kacin told the Belgrade based Politika daily newspaper.

He also said that Serbia is likely to follow the same scenario as the neighbouring Montenegro.

Montenegro got the so-called conditional date for the beginning of the EU negotiations in December 2011, meaning it was supposed to fulfill some specific criteria in order to open the negotiations in June 2012.

The Serbian PM, Ivica Dacic, told reporters on Monday that he expected that Serbia will begin the EU accession talks in June.

Suzana Grubjesic, Serbia's Deputy PM for EU Integration, said that chances are slim that Serbia would get the start date for the EU entry talks before the spring of 2013, but that it is expected that the EU Council will recognize Serbia's efforts and progress in the normalization of relations with Pristina at its Tuesday meeting.

“It is not possible any more to pursue the two-track policy - both the EU and Kosovo. Now, these two tracks have become one. That means that Serbia's progress in the EU integration depends in the most direct way and exclusively on the resolution of the Kosovo issue,” Grubjesic told the daily newspaper Vecernje Novosti.

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