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Serbia Warned Path to EU Dependent on Toeing the Line on Russia

Serbia has applied for EU membership but has not followed the EU in instituting sanctions against Russia

This article originally appeared at Translated for RI by Aleksei Shestyan

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has stated that the priority of the European Union is to “open the first chapter” in negotiations on Serbia’s entrance into the trading bloc, according to Reuters. The politician discussed this topic at a press conference in Belgrade.

“At this stage, I cannot say with certainty when, and what chapters we will open,” stated Mogherini. According to Mogherini, Brussels and Belgrade want this to happen before the end of the 2015 and she emphasized that on this occasion, it will require a joint effort from all of the European Union states.

The EU officially launched accession negotiations with Serbia in January 2014. However, due to the fact that an agreement between Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo was not reached, the EU accession process was halted.

According to Reuters, Serbia’s accession to the European Union in this current environment may not take place any earlier than 2022.

According to TASS, Mogerini does not believe that Russian-Serbian relations are an obstacle to Belgrade’s EU membership.

“Our common goal is the opening of chapters in negotiations this year, and I would like to focus on the steps that need to be taken for this objective, without mentioning the obstacles,” she explained. Nevertheless, Federica Mogherini warned that Serbia will have to align its foreign policy with that of the European Union.

In turn, the head of the Serbian government Alexander Vucic confirmed the country’s commitment to Europe. The Republic “will work hard to fulfill all the requirements,” he said. “We do not want to be a burden, but a fully-fledged member of the European Union,” said Vucic.

Serbia is one of the few countries in Europe which has refused to impose sanctions on Russia. In November 2014 it was revealed that the European Union required Belgrade to join the anti-Russian sanctions for the sake of (later) joining the EU. In March, as reported on the website, US Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby acknowledged that the West put pressure on Belgrade so it would adhere to anti-Russian sanctions.

Nevertheless, Serbian authorities have reiterated that the country would never impose such sanctions against the Russian Federation. Indeed State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin referred to the EU’s behavior as ‘rude and boorish’ in its attempt to include Serbia in the implementation of anti-Russian sanctions.

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