British Ambassador in Belgrade Stephen Wordsworth said that Serbia could join the EU in seven or eight years.
This would come “if it focuses all of its efforts on European integration and removes all the obstacles in its path,” he said.
Wordsworth said that more likely Serbia will achieve EU member candidate status in 2011.
Great Britain was ready to start the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) in December 2009, but not all 27 EU member countries share that position. The ratification of SAA will most likely start in June, as long as Serbia maintains a good level of cooperation with The Hague Tribunal, he said.
Asked if Serbia will have to recognize Kosovo in order to join NATO, Wordsworth said that nobody is asking Serbia to recognize Kosovo. Joining NATO is not a precondition for joining the EU – there are even some EU members countries which are not in NATO, he explained.
Wordsworth considers Serbia’s attempts to open negotiations on the status of Kosovo “completely unrealistic”.
“Talks between Belgrade and Priština are necessary – not on Kosovo’s status but rather on how to resolve numerous issues and provide a better life for Kosovo citizens. This does not necessarily entail a formal recognition of Kosovo,” he said.