Serbia Fears Delay to Start of EU Talks

Serbian Prime Minister says Serbia may still get a date to start EU accession talks this year, but it might not happen until 2014.Ivica Dacic said that Serbia could still get a date for a start to EU accession talks in the first half of 2013 if the European Council gives a positive opinion, known as an avis, on December 10.

“If we miss the chance now, we can expect a negotiations date in 2014,” the Prime Minister told the Serbian daily newspaper, Blic.

Serbia became an EU candidate in March 2012 and hopes to get a date for a start to EU accession talks this year.

But further progress depends on normalisation of relations with the former province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008.

The EU launched a dialogue between the two sides in March 2011 with the aim of normalising tense relations between Serbia and its former province, whose independence Belgrade vows never to recognise.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, mutual recognition of university diplomas, on the representation of Kosovo at regional meetings attended by Serbia, and on trade. However, the agreements have not been implemented so far.

Dacic said that a condition for a European Council positive opinion was full implementation of all existing agreements with Kosovo.

“The first is on Integrated Border Management, IBM, which should come to life through pilot projects… in the beginning of December,” Dacic was quoted as saying.

Support for the European project is declining in Serbia, meanwhile. According to a latest survey, backing for EU membership has dropped below 50 per cent.

If a referendum on an EU membership bid was held now, 49 per cent of Serbians who took part in the survey would say yes, 25 per cent would say no, 19 per cent would not vote, and 8 per cent are not sure what their answer would be.

Support earlier was over 60 per cent and the highest percentage was in December 2003, at 73 per cent. Support has been declining since December 2010.

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