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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The future of Serbia and Kosovo lies in the EU – Saryusz-Wolski
External relations officer for the European Parliamment.

February 5, 2008. Saryusz-Wolski: “EU is ready to absorb Serbia.
With the pro-European Boris Tadić just elected Serbia’s President, all eyes are now on Serbia’s relations with the EU and the future status of Kosovo. We spoke to Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, the Polish centre-right MEP who Chairs Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, about the possible future relationship of Serbia and Kosovo with the EU. He believes that both could one day be members of the Union – providing their people want it and they fulfil the rules for membership.

Boris Tadić has been re-elected as President of Serbia. What is your interpretation of this result?

First of all the elections have been executed according to all international standards and have expressed the free democratic will of the people. From the EU point of view it is good news: a newly re-elected president that shares European values and sees the future of Serbia within the European family. This gives the perspective of (European Union) membership to Serbia, hopefully in the not too distant future. So we are optimistic at this stage and looking forward to cooperating with the new president and his administration.

EU ministers recently decided to postpone the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), considered as the first step towards EU membership. How do you see the future of the relationship between Serbia and the EU?

The SAA is ready for signature, there are only minor reservations linked to the cooperation of Serbia with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). So, as soon as these reservations disappear, the whole process of signing and then implementing the SAA can proceed. I certainly see Serbia’s future in the EU. The election of a president with the will to join the EU means that the Serbian people want this option. So now it is a question of technicalities, of finalising the SAA, implementing it and then achieving full membership.

Do you think that the EU is ready to “absorb” Serbia?

Yes, the EU is ready to absorb Serbia as all other states of Western Balkans, provided that the difficult and demanding conditions are met (the EU’s “Copenhagen criteria” membership requirements – democratic government, respect for human rights and a functioning market economy) – as for everybody who has joined so far. But first we need peace and stability in the Western Balkans and then we can negotiate membership.

The election seems to show Serbs deeply divided over a possible EU future for their country (Mr Tadić won slightly more than half of all votes). How can the EU win them over?

Once the SAA is signed and put into practice, the Commission and Parliament will monitor that process. Given time, once relations between Serbia and the EU have intensified and the association process has moved forward – then it is likely the attitudes of Serb citizens will be more and more in favour of EU integration.

Kosovo is expected to declare independence soon, a prospect that was opposed by both Serbian presidential candidates. How will this affect relations between the EU and Serbia?

We know that the Kosovo problem is very difficult and painful for Serbia but we are looking towards integrating into the EU the whole of the Western Balkans. So once all those countries are in all those borders will disappear. We are looking forward to establishing good relations throughout the Western Balkans, but especially between Serbia and Kosovo.

What is important now is that if there is a unilateral declaration of independence, as many Member States as possible recognise Kosovo.

Will Kosovo join the EU?

I think that this is the future for Kosovo provided obviously that this is the will of its citizens – their future lies also in the Union.

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