Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Serbia becomes EU candidate on Wednesday

BRUSSELS - The European Commission will recommend Wednesday that Serbia be granted the status of a candidate for EU membership, but its future EU integration will be linked to Kosovo, a high-ranking diplomat on the commission who wished to remain anonymous told Tanjug Tuesday.

Serbia has achieved excellent progress in many areas, so it definitely deserves the candidate status, he stated.

However, he did not specify if the commission would suggest a start date for the accession talks.

Serbia will get a quite decent incentive to carry on with EU integration, but further progress will depend on the country itself and Belgrade's dialogue with Pristina, he explained.

The official commended the Serbian government on apprehending the last remaining fugitives of the Internaional Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, as well as on the successes in the fight against organized crime.

The positive opinion about Serbia's membership application was formulated after days of consultations within the commission, which is set to present on Wednesday its annual report on the progress of the countries that aspire to join the EU.

The candidate status became uncertain for Serbia recently because of incidents in northern Kosovo and interruption in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.

However, now it is also possible for Serbia to get the start date for the accession talks soon.

It is critical to defuse the situation in the north of Kosovo and continue the dialogue, the diplomat stated.

The final word on Serbia's membership application and potential start of the accession talks will be delivered by the European Council on December 9.

So far, the council has mostly done as recommended by the commission, but the tensions in northern Kosovo and strong opposition to EU's further enlargement by some members of the union add a certain level of suspense regarding the outcome.

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