Europe, Headlines

Greece Takes the Shine Off Serbian EU Candidacy

Vesna Peric Zimonjic

BELGRADE, Mar 7 2012 (IPS) - Serbia has reached its historic goal of becoming a European Union (EU) member candidate after being a pariah state for years. But analysts warn that the undisputed political success may not bring immediate results.

Many obstacles remain on the road to becoming an EU member by way of tuning laws to match EU legislation, and eradicating corruption and organised crime.

A survey by the Serbian European Integration Office (SEIO), the government body for EU integration, also shows that Serbia is deeply split over EU membership, with 51 percent of citizens supporting it. This is the lowest level of support in 12 years since the downfall of former president Slobodan Milosevic.

“People are more sceptical than the politicians,” analyst Srdjan Bogosavljevic told IPS. “If one could tell them in 2000 that EU membership means salvation for the economy, they know it’s not the case now.”

Analyst Djordje Vukadinovic says Serbs are looking closely at nearby Greece, where half a million among a Serbian population of seven million spend their summers.

“Irresponsible politicians presented the EU, in the past, as the beacon of development,” Vukadinovic told IPS. “Since Greece has fallen into debt, and news on brutal bailout methods has been all over the media, scepticism is normal. The main question is – what is the price ordinary people have to pay.”


Economist say the candidate status brings Serbia closer to the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds that could bring 200 million euros (265 million dollars) in investment.

“Forty million euros (53 million dollars) are ready to be invested into agriculture from 2014,” agriculture minister Dusan Petrovic told journalists. “It does not seem so much now, but bearing in mind that agriculture is the most successful production activity, this means a real boost.”

Agriculture is the only profitable export, earning 2.4 billion dollars in 2011. The growth rate in agriculture has been between 18 and 27 percent over the past decade.

The biggest opponents of EU membership are hard-line nationalists who want to keep traditional values and the Serb identity alive. For them, steps that bring Serbia closer to the EU mean loss of national identity and submission to the West.

Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), and prime minister for 2004-2008 has said this is not a moment for celebration. “Who can celebrate the candidacy now?” he said in a statement. “People who have no jobs, who have become very poor…Status represents an empty word with the high price paid.”

Kostunica was referring to Serbia’s agreement last week that Kosovo, its breakaway province, could have full representation in international meetings, despite the fact that Serbia opposes the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo in 2008.

“In order to get the candidate status, we had – de facto and de jure – to recognise the independence of Kosovo,” deputy leader of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party Dragan Todorovic said in a statement. “Stories of economic prosperity with the EU membership candidacy are just empty talk.”

Belgrade University professor Zarko Korac believes “there is little will for change.”

“There was and there remains in Serbia the constant battle between the conservatives that don’t want to change anything, and progressives who want improvement and change,” Korac told IPS. “This is the case now, again. The bad thing is that the former are very strong, like the Serbian Orthodox Church, for example.”

“Things will change (with the candidacy), of course,” Korac added, “But not as much, as fast, as many would like.”

 
Republish | | Print |
Economy & Trade, Europe, Featured, Headlines, TerraViva United Nations

Greece Takes the Shine Off Serbian EU Candidacy

BELGRADE, Mar 7 2012 (IPS) - Serbia has reached its historic goal of becoming a European Union (EU) member candidate after being a pariah state for years. But analysts warn that the undisputed political success may not bring immediate results.

 Many obstacles remain on the road to becoming an EU member by way of tuning laws to match EU legislation, and eradicating corruption and organised crime.

A survey by the Serbian European Integration Office (SEIO), the government body for EU integration, also shows that Serbia is deeply split over EU membership, with 51 percent of citizens supporting it. This is the lowest level of support in 12 years since the downfall of former president Slobodan Milosevic.

“People are more sceptical than the politicians,” analyst Srdjan Bogosavljevic told IPS. “If one could tell them in 2000 that EU membership means salvation for the economy, they know it’s not the case now.”

 Analyst Djordje Vukadinovic says Serbs are looking closely at nearby Greece, where half a million among a Serbian population of seven million spend their summers.

“Irresponsible politicians presented the EU, in the past, as the beacon of development,” Vukadinovic told IPS. “Since Greece has fallen into debt, and news on brutal bailout methods has been all over the media, scepticism is normal. The main question is – what is the price ordinary people have to pay.”

Economist say the candidate status brings Serbia closer to the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds that could bring 200 million euros (265 million dollars) in investment.

“Forty million euros (53 million dollars) are ready to be invested into agriculture from 2014,” agriculture minister Dusan Petrovic told journalists. “It does not seem so much now, but bearing in mind that agriculture is the most successful production activity, this means a real boost.”

Agriculture is the only profitable export, earning 2.4 billion dollars in 2011. The growth rate in agriculture has been between 18 and 27 percent over the past decade.

The biggest opponents of EU membership are hard-line nationalists who want to keep traditional values and the Serb identity alive. For them, steps that bring Serbia closer to the EU mean loss of national identity and submission to the West.

Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), and prime minister for 2004-2008 has said this is not a moment for celebration. “Who can celebrate the candidacy now?” he said in a statement. “People who have no jobs, who have become very poor…Status represents an empty word with the high price paid.”

Kostunica was referring to Serbia’s agreement last week that Kosovo, its breakaway province, could have full representation in international meetings, despite the fact that Serbia opposes the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo in 2008.

“In order to get the candidate status, we had – de facto and de jure – to recognise the independence of Kosovo,” deputy leader of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party Dragan Todorovic said in a statement. “Stories of economic prosperity with the EU membership candidacy are just empty talk.”

Belgrade University professor Zarko Korac believes “there is little will for change.”

“There was and there remains in Serbia the constant battle between the conservatives that don’t want to change anything, and progressives who want improvement and change,” Korac told IPS. “This is the case now, again. The bad thing is that the former are very strong, like the Serbian Orthodox Church, for example.”

“Things will change (with the candidacy), of course,” Korac added, “But not as much, as fast, as many would like.” (END/IPS/EU/IP/UE/VZ/SS/12)

 
Republish | | Print |

X
NEXT STOP SDGS
  • Tracking global progress towards a sustainable world

Weekly Newsletter