Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Saturday (July 25th) he is optimistic that Serbia’s interim trade agreement with the EU — as part of the broader pre-membership agreement — would be unblocked by the beginning of 2010. In an interview with the newspaper Danas, Jeremic said talks on the issue continue and that he hopes consensus among the EU members will emerge shortly. He added that Serbia has not given up its plan to submit a request for EU candidate status this year.
Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic has insisted that Serbia has the technical and administrative capacity to begin EU membership negotiations, the second step after receiving candidate status, immediately. Serbia signed its Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU in April 2008, but the Netherlands has been opposing its enforcement ever since, insisting that Serbia must first arrest the remaining two war crimes fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.