By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
The accession negotiations between the EU and Serbia would start at the latest in January 2014, European Union Council decided at its Brussels summit on Friday. Thus, the prime ministers and the presidents of the EU member states confirmed the recommendation adopted by the Union foreign ministers earlier this week.
President of the European Council Hermann Van Rompuy said that decision was the result of “historical deal” between Belgrade and Pristina.
“Congratulations to Serbia and Kosovo. Looking forward already to the negotiations”, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule posted on twitter. EU Council also decided to open the talks on Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo.
The position of Germany was crucial for the EU leaders decision that practically prolonged the start of talks with Serbia, which had been expected in October. On Thursday, German Bundestag adopted the declaration, which states that the negotiations should start in January 2014. German MP`s also stressed that talks should start only after the EU Council assess that the Brussels agreement about the normalization of the relations between Serbia and Kosovo is “fully and permanently” implemented. German Chancellor Angela Merkel specified at the Bundestag session that the first meeting of the accession conference with Serbia could be held in January.
However, according to Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) report, European Union leaders gave up the precondition that the EU Council should evaluate the Brussels agreement implementation in December. This precondition was mentioned in the EU foreign ministers draft recommendation. Friday decision suggests that the talks could theoretically start even before January, RTS reported. Nevertheless, EU Council will have to confirm the frame for the negotiations.
“The decision by the EU Council regarding the start of the negotiations is political, not the legal one. We have clearly stated that European Commission will have to confirm the frame for negotiations. But this is the part of regular procedure”, Hermann Van Rompuy stressed, adding that the EC confirmation “does not represent the additional precondition” for Serbia.
However, there is no doubt that Berlin will persist in its demands regarding Serbia, at least after the start of the negotiations. Germany insists that Belgrade should reach legally binding agreement with Pristina to ensure that Serbia would not block integration of Kosovo into EU. “The North of Kosovo inhabitated with Serbs should be incorporated politically and legally into the Republic of Kosovo”, Bundestag proclaimed on Thursday. Berlin also demands complete investigation of the attack on German Embassy in Belgrade in February 2008. The attack on German and U. S. embassies occured after Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed its independence.