Serbia: We can't bluff our way to Brussels
26 October 2010
On 25 October, the union’s 27 member states decided to forward Belgrade’s request for EU accession to the European Commission. But the process that is now underway will still have to overcome a significant number of obstacles, reports Serbian daily Blic.
At last, there is good news from Luxembourg. The European Union Foreign Affairs Council has agreed to forward Serbia’s application to join the EU to the European Commission. The decision was approved by a unanimous vote in spite of pressure exerted by the Netherlands, which wants to make the initiative conditional on the arrest of Ratko Mladic, accused of genocide and numerous war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
However, the firm line adopted by the Netherlands was also taken into account.
The EU member states are insisting that every stage of the accession process be approved by all of the EU’s national governments and that Serbia cooperate fully with the ICTY. In other words, Belgrade will have to arrest Ratko Mladic and the other war crimes fugitives.
Euphoria will likely be short-lived
The ball is now in Serbia’s court, and not only regarding Mladic’s arrest. In a questionnaire shortly to be dispatched to Belgrade, Serbia will be required to outline the measures it has taken to fulfill the political and economic criteria for EU accession, and in particular give details of how it plans to combat corruption and establish a dialogue with Kosovo.
As the former European Commissioner for Englargement, Štefan Füle, pointed out, European leaders support for Serbian accession also implies that a lot is expected of Belgrade. So the euphoria in the wake of yesterday’s announcement will likely be short-lived. If Serbia is not to remain an aspiring member of the EU forever, we will have move quickly to introduce profound change, and overcome the many difficulties that this will involve.
In the light of its less than happy experience of Bulgarian and Romanian enlargement, Brussels is adamant that their will be no backdoor left open for Serbia. In short, there is no possibility of bluffing our way into the European Union.