Serbia: getting closer to Europe – the European Parliament ratifies the SAA

Serbia: getting closer to Europe – the European Parliament ratifies the SAA

2011. 01. 26.

Serbia has a depressing and traumatic history, having experienced the end of communism, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the wars that ensued, the rule of Slobodan Milošević, the bombing of 1999, burgeoning mafias and criminality, violence, refugees – argued Schöpflin in connection with the last two decades. "The decision in the light of these turbulences to opt for Europe, therefore, is a considerable achievement and signals that Serbia has become a factor of stability in the region."

However two major political problems remain – the arrest and transfer of Ratko Mladić to The Hague and coming to terms with the independence of Kosovo. Schöpflin highlighted that both these point towards psychological barriers. "Mladić has his protectors and the loss of Kosovo is painful for a sizeable section of Serbian society – any loss of territory is painful," he added.

Public administration, the administration of justice, establishing market conditions and full openness towards Serbia's past, including opening its archives, still need to be taken in hand by the Serbian government.

But Serbia's European commitment is clear, the tasks faced by the elite and by society are recognised and the technical preparations are going ahead. "If all goes well, Serbia should receive the avis this autumn and candidate status after that. The road to Europe will not be easy, but Europe as a whole benefits from a stable, democratic Serbia," concluded Schöpflin.

Kinga Gál appreciated that, according to the Copenhagen criteria on minority rights, the report is well balanced. However the MEP pointed out that Serbia still needs to perform better in the implementation of laws on minority protection. Both the Statute of Voivodina and the Law on National Councils are only worth as much as the elements that are implemented in practical, everyday life, including an appropriate financial instrument.

Kinga Gál welcomed all those elements in the report that are important for the ethnic Hungarian minorities in Voivodina during the accession process.