PositionEuropean Union

Following Montenegro's example(1), Serbia intends to submit a formal application for EU candidate status in the first half of 2009. Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic stated, on 6 January, that his government is preparing to make such a request in April regardless whether the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - a gateway to EU membership - is unblocked by that time. He also confirmed that in April his government will apply for the inclusion of Serbia into the so-called Schengen white list', which comprises countries that enjoy a visa-free regime

with the EU.

In an interview with TV Avala, Cvetkovic expressed his confidence that the EU will respond positively to both requests. However, according to experts, it is rather unrealistic to expect that the EU would assess positively Serbia's application unless the country starts implementing the SAA.

Last April, Serbia signed the SAA with the EU, but its implementation has been blocked by the Netherlands, requesting Belgrade to arrest and hand over the two remaining fugitives (Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic) to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

To break the stalemate over the SAA, Cvetkovic's government decided to implement its trade-related part - the so-called interim agreement - unilaterally. He confirmed that Belgrade will soon reduce customs tariffs on import of goods from the EU, starting with the reduction of customs fees on imported cars. To this end, Serbia's parliament has yet to enact relevant laws, which were scheduled to be approved before the end of...

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