Albania rewarded with EU Candidate Status

Albania received the official candidate status of the EU. The country in the Western Balkans has a population of three million people, 17% unemployment and is known for its endemic organized crime but also its beautiful beaches. It is likely that the talks for Tirana will last for many years. It will depend on the speed of reform and the political will and consensus how long Albania’s road to membership will take. Continue reading “Albania rewarded with EU Candidate Status”

Serbian “savior” won elections but difficult times ahead

The big winner: Aleksandar Vucic is the new prime minister of Serbia after gaining a majority in the parliament elections. (c) Wikipedia

It did not come as a surprise. The new prime minister of Serbia is popular, smart and charismatic. Aleksander Vucic, the new superhero of Serbian politics, received some 49% in the parliament elections on Sunday. His center-right progressive party (SNS) won thereby a majority in parliament with 158 seats (and more than doubled its representation up from 73) in Serbia’s 10th elections after the re-introduction of multiparty introduction in Serbia in 1990. Continue reading “Serbian “savior” won elections but difficult times ahead”

The Negotiations are On: Serbia into the EU until 2020

The negotiations for EU membership might take years, but the process in itself is important for Serbia (c) commons.wikimedia.org
The negotiations for EU membership might take years, but the process in itself is important for Serbia (c) commons.wikimedia.org

I still very much remember the words of a high level nationalist politician from the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), a national conservative party, when I got a tour in the Serbian parliament in Belgrade back in spring 2007. I asked him when Serbia would join the EU. He just laughed and responded that this will not be necessary because the EU will fall apart soon anyways. Well, although the crisis was afterwards hitting the EU hard, the union certainly did not fall; on the opposite, it even strengthened. On Tuesday, the 21 January 2014 the first conference for accession negotiations with the EU means that Belgrade is at the start of a historic path towards European integration. Or, as a Serbian journalist put it, “the bad guy is knocking on the door.” Continue reading “The Negotiations are On: Serbia into the EU until 2020”

Serbia on the way from a pariah state to become part of the union

ImageIt can go quickly when all parties involved are cooperative and the political will is there. On Tuesday, the Council of the EU decided that accession talks with Serbia would start on 21 January 2014. This decision was based on a very positive report by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Back in March 2012, the EU granted Serbia candidate status. Since the historic agreement in April 2013 that allowed for a breakthrough between Belgrade and Pristina, most of the EU demands are fulfilled. Thus, Serbia has the green light to negotiate with the EU and become a full-fledged member of the union. Finally, Serbia will not be the pariah state of Europe but rather help to move Europe as a whole forward. A difficult and long process will start. Continue reading “Serbia on the way from a pariah state to become part of the union”

A peaceful second attempt by Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs

ImageA week ago, on 17 November 2013, ethnic Serbs in the northern part of Kosovo went to the polls – just another time. The first attempt, two weeks earlier, to organize local elections were marked by violence in Mitrovica and consequently were suspended and annulled there. Tear gas and smashed ballot boxes showed the dismay of some of the approx. 40,000 ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo. These municipal elections became necessary because of the landmark deal between Kosovo and Serbia under the auspices of the EU in April 2013. Serbia agreed to the deal because membership talks to join the union were guaranteed by that and eventually the county can join the “European club”. Continue reading “A peaceful second attempt by Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs”