Serbia becomes EU candidate
02. March 2012. | 08:32 09:04
Heads of state and prime ministers of EU member countries decided in Brussels on Thursday to grant Serbia EU candidate status. EU leaders expect the Thursday decision of the European Council to serve as an encouragement to Serbia to continue meeting the criteria on its EU path and to remain committed to the dialogue, Rompuy stated.
Heads of state and prime ministers of EU member countries decided in Brussels on Thursday to grant Serbia EU candidate status.
The news was first made public by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on his Twitter account, and the information was later confirmed by representatives of Denmark and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso on their Twitter profiles.
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy released late on Thursday that EU leaders decided to grant Serbia EU candidate status.
This is an important achievement, Rompuy told a news conference in the seat of the EU following the meeting of heads of state and prime ministers of EU member countries, and added that this decision comes as a result of the successful dialogue for which both sides are to be credited.
EU leaders expect the Thursday decision of the European Council to serve as an encouragement to Serbia to continue meeting the criteria on its EU path and to remain committed to the dialogue, Rompuy stated.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the decision of the European Council and recalled that he expressed belief during the meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Brussels on Tuesday that Serbia would win the candidate status at the council of ministers or the EU summit, because the country deserves this.
The debate on Serbia's candidate status was a rather short one, Tanjug correspondent reported.
Prior to the decision, Serbia and Romania signed a protocol regarding the position of minorities in both countries and thus removed the final obstacle on Serbia's path to winning the candidate status.
During a meeting of EU foreign ministers two days ago, Romania expressed certain reserve as regards the position of the Vlach minority in Serbia and brought this issue in connection with its support to Serbia's candidate status.
European Union office in Serbia chief Vincent Degert speaking at a conference on environmental protection in Belgrade, entitled "Green Serbia," Degert said that, as of Monday, March 5, work should continue full ahead toward the next step the start of EU accession negotiations for Serbia.
He went on to say that the candidacy is a great accomplishment for Serbia and good news for both the region and Europe because, as he said, we all live on the same planet and we all have common goals.
The EU, Degert said, has helped Serbia over the past ten years with EUR2.2 billion, of which more than 25 percent was for environmental protection.
Degert said that the time of plenty and cheap resources is behind us and that 20,000 new inhabitants are born on the planet every day, which will have a population of nine billion by 2050, and that this is why we have to change our life habits.
Bildt: Accession talks are likely by year's end
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he hoped that Serbia would not only get the date for the beginning of EU accession negotiations by the end of the year, but also start the talks with the European Union.
In an interview with Politika, a Belgrade-based daily, Bildt stressed that the progress that had been made in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was very important for Serbia, adding that Kosovo was not a condition for Serbia's candidacy, because the conditions were the same for every individual country.
The Swedish foreign minister said that at the EU Council of Ministers meeting on Tuesday it was not quite clear what Romania, which had demanded guarantees for the respect of the Vlach minority in Serbia, wanted by conditioning their support, stressing that he was glad the issue was immediately resolved.As for Kosovo, he said that however Kosovo was defined, it was in Serbia's interest that there was stability in relations with and within Kosovo.
Asked if he thought that the EU really wanted to consider a new solution, such as the partition of Kosovo or the autonomy for the north of Kosovo, Bildt said that the division of Kosovo was not an option, but the people in the north should be provided with normal living conditions.Now we have the question of how to ensure that people in the north can live normally, which is also in the interest of Serbia, said Bildt.
The fact that the Serbian government sends money there is all right, but the question of transparency of the transactions is an issue that needs to be addressed, Bildt added.
New elections will have to be held in the north of Kosovo at some point and it is necessary to see how this can be done, said Bildt.Bildt added that it was very important because the resolution of issues necessitated negotiations with representatives of the north, both for talks with the international community and with Pristina.