“Each time Serbia makes a step away from the EU is bad enough and the possible penalties that are mentioned would be disastrous for both the economy and the citizens. That is why I believe that Serbia will harmonize its visa policy very quickly, because, without harmonization with the common European foreign and security policy, there will be no progress in the accession process either,” Suzana Grubješić from the Foreign Policy Centre says for Danas daily in reaction to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article which says that Serbia should not be conditioned by the termination of accession negotiations with the European Union and that Serbia would only react if the EU abolished the visa-free regime for Serbian citizens which facilitates visa-free travel to the Schengen area.
Grubješić says that no one can replace the EU as the largest donor, investor and trade partner in the short term, neither the USA, nor China, and especially not Russia.
“Therefore, harmonization with European policies is still imperative, because we depend on it existentially. The other side of the coin is the possibility of becoming an EU member within a reasonable period of time, which does not depend much on Serbia or the other accession candidates, but primarily on the political agreement of the member states on the further expansion of the Union,” Grubješić adds.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes that it is not worth threatening Serbia with the termination of accession negotiations with the European Union, because at the moment, joining the EU is as realistic as going to Mars. But visa-free travel is another matter.
Lately, Serbia has been accused of “trying to destabilize the EU at the behest of Russia”, writes Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and adds “this is reminiscent of the claim of Konstantin Kuhle, deputy head of the Liberal parliamentary group in the Bundestag, who stated that “the Serbian government is Putin’s extended arm in the Balkans”, as well as Michael Stibgen, the Christian Democrat Minister of the Interior of the Brandenburg province, who said the same.”
Namely, they claimed that Serbia is purposefully letting people from India, Tunisia, Burundi or Cuba into the country without visas so that they can proceed to travel to the EU and seek asylum. Stibgen called it “asylum tourism” that Serbia supports. German politicians demanded that Belgrade’s negotiations on EU accession or money from pre-accession funds be reviewed, reports Deutsche Welle.
Frankfurter Allgemeine writes further: “Doubts about Serbia are understandable, but in this case unsustainable. Trust in Serbia has diminished somewhat because the country did not impose sanctions against Russia, but the accusations that Serbia, is undermining the EU, on Putin’s orders, by encouraging irregular migration are misdirected.”
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