Ognjen Pribicevic, a principal research fellow and a former Serbian diplomat
By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
– I think that it is realistic to expect EU Council to give Serbia the date for the beginning of the EU accession negotiations – says Ognjen Pribicevic, a principal research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade, for IBNA. After European Commission recommended that Serbia should be given the date for EU accession negotiation, Pribicevic, who had been Serbian ambassador in Germany until a few years ago, also expects that the parliaments of member states, including Bundestag, would confirm that.
– The basis for such an expectation is the fact that the recommendation of the European Commission is a result of a political decision – says Pribicevic.
* There were some speculations in media that there had existed some additional conditions, for example, more univocal attitude toward the crime in Srebrenica, which is not considered to be a genocide for Serbia, even though international courts decided differently.
– Further conditioning is not realistic, since the key question in the deciding about the date was Kosovo. The resolution of Kosovo question was the most important for the United States, which affected the positive decision concerning the date, even though the States are not a member of EU. Everything else is of the lesser importance. For the United States as well as for Germany, Kosovo represents a strategic and political question.
* Slovakia and Romania indicated that they could recognize Kosovo after the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. How feasible is this and whether a chain of recognitions of Kosovo’s independence would follow this?
– The chain of recognitions is feasible. I think that Slovakia and Romania are under a great pressure from Washington to recognize Kosovo. The agreement of normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina could have led in that direction. Even if that had not been the case, USA would have continued to put pressure to recognize Kosovo on those countries which had not already done it. Serbia, being a small country, cannot do much in that regard.
* Do you think that the referendum about the agreement will be called?
– According to the fact that the current Serbian government has already achieved two-third majority in the Parliament, referendum is unnecessary. Even in the case the referendum is called, I believe that the citizens would support Brussels agreement. The reason for that is that this is the agreement about the normalization of relations and not the recognition of Kosovo’s independence.
* Perhaps the citizens would accept the advice of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is one of the institutions with the highest reputation in Serbian society, to oppose the agreement?
– It is certain that SOC has enormous influence, but the church and the state are separated. A big dilemma is whether and how intensely can the Church affect the voters. I think that this government has big support not only in the Parliamnet, but also in the electoral body.
* How serious are the threats which PM Ivica Dacic and his deputy, Aleksandar Vucic receive since the ratification of the agreement with Pristina?
– They are certainly very serious. On the other side, until now, but excluding the period of the rule of Slobodan Milosevic and the other criminals, the state appeared to be stronger then the criminal. The criminals cannot beat the state. Serbia is not an exception in this question in comparison to the other states.
* Do you think that Serbia is facing new parliamentary elections?
– At this moment I do not expect new elections to be called. It does not seem as feasible as before. Anyhow, one can never exclude different option.
* How is Russia going to receive the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina and will Serbian foreign policy continue to oscillate between the West and Moscow?
– In my opinion, Russia, as it has already been the case in the past, will act very correctly. Moscow has been showing that it has nothing against Serbian EU accession. Furthermore, it is not a secret that Moscow has a different opinion when Serbian relation to NATO is concerned. On the other hand, it is not realistic that Serbia would become a member of some organizations that it does not geographically belong to.