2018 is going to bring a lot of challenges to Serbia, but also bring us closer to the resolution of the issues that are very important for the country’s progress – political experts agree. There are four big tests ahead of us – the election, Constitutional amendments, solving the Kosovo issue, and further progress in the EU accession process.
Executive Director of CeSID, Bojan Klacar says that the election could cause the biggest turbulence: “If only Belgrade election take place, than we are in for a somewhat peaceful year. But if parliamentary election takes place too, than we can expect deeper political changes and by that I mean the re-configuration of political power which, in translation, means a different distribution of power in the Parliament. There will be challenges in terms of the relations with Russia and our progress towards EU membership. I also see EU’s support and the communication that would restore the trust as potentially big problems”.
BELGRADE: March election
The biggest political challenge this year is definitely the Belgrade election that is supposed to take in March, and called by 1st February the latest. It remains to be seen whether parliamentary election would take place this year too. The Belgrade election is important for the government in power, because if they win, that would just validate their six-year-long domination on the Serbian political scene. If the opposition wins, it would create a serious ‘crack’ in the continuity of the SNS-SPS coalition’s rule.
THE CONSTITUTION: Consensus
Amendments to the country’s most important legal act – the Constitution – have been in the making since last year. Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic said on several occasions that the Constitution would be changed only if there was a wide consensus on the issue.
The most certain amendments will relate to judiciary in an effort to harmonize the Constitution with the requirements of the Venice Commission. The first working draft of the Constitution’s amendments in this area is supposed to be finished by mid-January. The biggest problem with this is the preamble concerning Kosovo which is probably going to be changed or deleted all together. However, before this happens, the Parliament needs to get the green light from the opposition MPs, or carry out a referendum in the country.
Kosovo remains one of the most painful topics for the Serbian people. This year is supposed be the year when a permanent solution to this problem is supposed to be found. President Vucic has announced that, come March, the authorities would present a proposal that “would be different to easy solutions” and that “requires painful compromises to be made from both sides”. Vucic also said that it was highly likely that the proposal would be heavily criticized by all parties involved.
Everybody knows that Serbia’s accession into the EU is closely related to the country finding a common language with Kosovo authorities. It is no coincidence that the first chapter that Serbia opened in the accession process – the chapter 35, which relates to Kosovo – is also the last chapter that the country is going to close.
The draft Strategy for EU Accession stipulates that Serbia could become an EU member by 2025, and that the country would have to close all negotiation chapters by 2023. In the first half of this year, Serbia is expected to open at least four chapters. So far, we have opened 12 out of a total of 35.
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