Interview: EU did ‘right thing’ ahead of Serbian elections

european_flag1.jpg [Reuters]

The EU acted boldly by signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia ahead of the early parliamentary elections on 11 May, Goran Svilanovic, the former minister of foreign affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, told EURACTIV in an interview. He also welcomed the EU’s recent visa facilitation initiative.

Goran Svilanovic, who now works for the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, welcomed the EU’s latest attempts to keep Serbia on the accession path. The decision to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) last month and the presentation, by Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot on May 7, of a roadmap on lifting visa restrictions for Serbians wishing to travel to the bloc, were the “right ones”, he said. 

“Of course it might influence the election result, but I would say that under the circumstances in Serbia, every step forward, even every half of a step, is always welcome. We have no time to lose anymore,” he added.

He expressed his hope that a minority democratic government would be established following the elections. He blamed Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica for pushing for a transfer of power from the democratic bloc to one made up of nationalists and radicals. Svilanovic also envisaged a situation whereby both camps would prove unable to form a government and may decide to go for a re-run. 

Nevertheless, he played down fears that Serbia could slip away from the EU path. “Even if we end up with nationalists in power it might only slow down the process of integration with the EU – but cannot prevent it, for it is genuinely in the best interest of Serbia and people understand and support it,” he stated. 

As regards the EU Kosovo Mission (EU-Lex), Svilanovic believes that is in limbo because of legal problems (EURACTIV 16/04/08). He suggested that a solution could be found if the same person was in charge of EU-Lex and the UN mission UNMIK. 

He also advised the Serbian and Kosovar sides to continue to negotiate. “Serbia will call them status negotiations, while the Kosovo Albanians will certainly call them post-status negotiations,” Svilanovic said. He suggested these would concentrate on concrete issues: IDs, passports, travel, privatisation, energy and car licence plates. 

To read the full interview, please click here
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