| Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy

Roundtable discussion with H.E. the Ambassador of Serbia in Athens, 12/03/2012

On Monday 12 March ELIAMEP hosted H.E. the Serbian Ambassador in Greece Mr. Dragan Županjevac. In the event organised by Western Balkans team the Abmassador analysed the prospects of Serbia in its course towards European integration. The event took place short after Serbia got the EU candidate status and was therefore attended by several academics, members of ELIAMEP, representatives of the diplomatic missions in Greece and journalists.

In the beginning Dr. Armakolas, ‘Stavros Costopoulos’ research fellow and head of the Western Balkans team of ELIAMEP, gave a 10-minute introductory presentation on the current political context of Serbia, the dynamics before the upcoming elections and the structure of the political and party system in the country.

In his speech the Serbian Ambassador underlined the European commitment of Serbia and explained the reasons why accession should be firmly pursued even in amidst crisis. Through a flashback in the history of the negotiations with the EU, Mr. Županjevac shared his first-hand experience and referred to the ongoing reforms, especially in the last two and a half months, which among else meet the EU standards, although he admitted there is still a long way to go and the process is perplexed by the constant shifting of the goalposts by Brussels. In conclusion, the speaker pointed out that it was the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, as well as the visa liberalisation that gave the impetus for further progress, despite the pessimism caused by the initial negative opinions.

Special tribute was made to Kosovo. H.E. the Serbian Ambassador reiterated his country’s position for non-recognition and warned for the creation of a precedent with potential destabilising effects in the region. Besides, he described the basic lines of the Serbian policy on the issue: Serbia is ready to cooperate for the sake of good neighbourliness (according to all mutual agreements and the Security Council Resolution 1244 as fundamental document) with legal and diplomatic means, while it condemns any kind of violence.

The interesting discussion that followed focused on the practice of shifting the goalposts by the EU vis-à-vis the conditions that Serbia was asked to fulfill, also in comparison with the Croatian case. It was said that it was expected and that now Serbia has cleared goals and commitments. Romania’s recent claim on the Romanian-Vlach minority in Serbia was also touched upon, as well as the agreement on Kosovo’s participation in regional conferences.

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