Serbian President, Boris Tadić, enthusiastically accepted the EU’s invitation for Serbia to be granted official candidacy status for it to join the European Union. After satisfying the requests of the European Union members through their implementation of more democratic reforms into their political system, and capturing and duly imprisoning those who have been accused of heinous war crimes, Serbia has been officially been granted EU candidacy status.
Although their accession was placed under doubt due to their continued tension with Kosovo, there has been substantial effort made in Belgrade to improve dialogue between the two states in order to allow for Serbia to gain access to European Union membership.
Initially there were doubts over Serbia’s invitation to join the the European Union due to Romania expressing discontent with Serbia’s reluctance to support ethnic minorities in the country. The Romanian government accused Serbia of not putting enough effective measures in place which would address the grievances of ethnic minorities within the country.
There are currently 30,000 individuals in Serbia that descend from Romanian roots, who are believed to be neglected by the Serbian government with respects to being granted equal rights. As part of EU requirements, Serbia has to now begin enforcing laws within its country’s borders in order to fully comply with EU legislation; consequently having to address previously neglected problems.
In addition to coming under fire from the Romanian government for not doing enough for Romanian minorities within the state, Serbia also had to overcome numerous hurdles with regards to their relationship with the newly independent state, Kosovo. The latter part of the 1990’s witnessed a breakdown in communication between the two territories, with the Serbian government unleashing an attack upon the territory in a desperate attempt to maintain control over the territory, and arbitrarily rejecting their requests for autonomy from Belgrade.
After Kosovo declared independence in 2008, the two countries have failed maintain a neutral, and steady relationship with one another, with Serbia failing to accept and recognise the country as an independent state. In December, Germany vetoed the proposal of granting Serbia candidacy status on the grounds that it had failed to improve its relationship with Kosovo, instead regressing back to violent methods of trying to maintain order; however, Prishtina and Belgrade entered into agreement last week, with both sides suggesting that they were duly committed to managing their joint border, which has seen the upheaval of excessive violence in recent months. In order for the EU to specify an official date for the formal accession of Serbia into the EU, it has to make even further progress with regards to improving its relations with Kosovo.
By granting candidacy status to Serbia and generally permitting the accession of new states into the European Union, it is a significant step for the EU as it helps to draw attention away from the eurozone crisis that is currently crippling the region. It sends out the message that the European Union is still a relevant and progressive political entity, which has not lost its appeal amongst neighbouring states, who still display enthusiasm at the prospect of being politically evolved within the Union. However, how keen Serbian citizens will be at the EU dictating its foreign relations and compelling it to part with what they believe is their territory (Kosovo), is yet to be seen.