EC Wants to Unblock Serbia Trade Deal

A new European Commission, EC, document reportedly argues that the EU should unblock its Interim Trade Agreement with Serbia.

Beta news agency reports that the EC is urging the unfreezing of the pact, arguing that the authorities in Serbia have proven their commitment to the country’s EU integration process and improved their cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

This deal is part of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, signed last spring and immediately suspended due to the Netherlands’ strong opposition.

The Dutch are vehemently opposed to unblocking the agreement before war crimes fugitives Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic are delivered to the ICTY.

The director of Serbia’s EU Integration Office, Milica Delevic, told daily Danas that the EC recommendation to unblock the trade deal is an important signal for Serbia.

“It means that the message from Belgrade about our willingness and ability [to move towards] European integration has been well received in Brussels,” she said.

The new head of the EC delegation in Serbia, Vincent Degert, presented his credentials to Serbian President Boris Tadic on Tuesday.

In an initial statement, Degert pointed out that his mission is to assist Serbia in its efforts to join the EU and to strengthen the relations between the two parties.

“We firmly believe that Serbia’s rightful place is within the family of democratic European countries and […] when conditions are right, as a full member of the EU,” he said.

According to Beta, the EC annual progress report on the western Balkans states that “Serbia has invested efforts to apply an ambitious European integration programme”. The EC also notes that Serbia has a capable public administration, which must be used to speed reform, the agency reports.

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