Is Serbia On Its Way To An EU Membership?

This article can also be found at Tremr.

Serbia could very well be on its way to an EU membership in the near future with the help of the pro-European Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Vucic’s Progressive Party swept general and local elections on Sunday. The victory marks Vucic’s second fourth-year term as prime minister of Serbia. “Serbia will continue on its European path and we’ll try to accelerate it,” Vucic told supporters after the elections. He promised a “modern, European Serbia by 2020.”

Serbian politics, and Vucic, have come a long way since the demise of the former Yugoslavia. Vucic is presently “well-received in Brussels,” but his legacy in Serbian politics is far from admirable. He had formerly worked under the oppressive Slobodan Milosevic as an information minister and was quick to defend Bosnian-Serb leaders who committed heinous crimes against their own people. He was expelled from working in the government in 2000 after Milosevic fell out of power and was even banned from entering the European Union. He entered Parliament again in 2003, and in 2008 abandoned the far-right Serbian Radical Party. In a monumental shift in ideology, Vucic founded the pro-European Progressive Party. He has even stated that he will not compromise with right-wing politicians who seek to maintain relations with Russia.

One of the requirements for EU accession is the garnering of an amicable relationship between Serbia and Kosovo, which declared independence from the former in 2008. Under Vucic’s government the EU brokered a Serbia-Kosovo deal in April 2013, which paved the way for EU-accession talks. In the past Serbia was reluctant to negotiate with Kosovo in fear of upsetting Serbian nationalist groups, but Vucic’s pro-European stance has shifted political priorities.

It is likely that Vucic will successfully proceed with the reforms required to join the EU, but will he be able to improve the country’s condition on a domestic scale? He asserts that accession to the EU will raise Serbia’s domestic standards up to that of other European countries, but there has been doubt about whether he can actually fix domestic problems, such as the economy. Vucic may be on his way to guiding the nation to an EU membership, but whether he can deliver on his promise of a “modern, European Serbia by 2020” is a bit more questionable.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo

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