Serbian Officials ‘In No Rush’ to Join EU

As Serbia awaits an EU progress report which is likely to be negative, the country’s nationalist government has started signalling a change in their attitudes towards EU integration.Suzana Grubjesic, the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU integration, has said that Serbia is in no rush to meet the EU membership conditions.

She said that Serbia “should not rush in” along that road, which she described as “not a 100-meter sprint, but rather a marathon”.

“On this path, we should change Serbia for our sake, not because of Berlin and Brussels,” Grubjesic told Danas, a Serbian daily newspaper, on Monday.

Her statement came in the wake of President Tomislav Nikolic’s remarks at a party meeting on Sunday when he stated that “there is no reason to chase after a date and a paper”.

“Ten years of running has brought Serbia to the verge of poverty. Now it is time to start thinking about ourselves a little,” the president said.

This lukewarm attitude towards the EU integration comes at a time when Serbia is awaiting the annual EU progress report due to be presented on October 10.

The report is likely to say that with this year’s general elections and delays in the formation of a new government, Serbia has wasted precious time to make progress on a number of key issues, an EU diplomat told Balkan Insight.

The key issues likely to be highlighted in the report include the normalisation of relations with Kosovo, which Serbia does not recognise as a state, the judicial reforms, the fight against corruption and the protection of human rights.

For these reasons, Brussels is likely to postpone the decision on whether to offer Serbia a date for a start of accession talks.

Serbia obtained official EU candidate status in March 2012. But obtaining a start date for negotiations is a bigger step, requiring the consistent implementation of reforms and control on their workings.

Meanwhile, Serbia’s support for the EU integration process has hit its all time low since the 2000 democratic changes.

According to the results of a latest survey carried out by the Serbian Government’s European Integration Office, if a referendum on EU membership bid was held now, 49 per cent of Serbians who took part in a survey would say yes to joining, 25 per cent would say no, 19 per cent would not vote, and 8 per cent are not sure what their answer would be.

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