While Serbia is still considering whether to impose sanctions on Russia, there is increasing pressure from the European Union for Serbia to do so and messages that the country’s further accession negotiations will depend on this decision.
Asked how realistic the threat is, EU spokeswoman Ana Pisonero said that the Member States make up ultimate decisions on enlargement, although Serbia is expected to harmonise its foreign policy with Brussels.
Serbia has officially been on the path to the EU for over 20 years, but is still far from full-fledged EU membership. This has been influenced by numerous factors, including previous problems with the Hague Tribunal, the Kosovo issue, the lack of the rule of law and democracy, the slow implementation of reforms, but also the proximity to China and Russia.
Taking all circumstances into account, it is not surprising that Serbia, as an EU candidate country, opened 22 chapters out of 35 and temporarily closed only two chapters (science and research, education and culture).
EU spokeswoman Ana Pisonero said the Community expects Serbia to gradually align itself with European foreign policy. “The EU has strongly condemned Russia’s unjustified military aggression against Ukraine and imposed extensive sanctions on the Russian and Belarusian regimes, targeting individuals, institutions and companies. Thus, the EU sent a clear message that support for the Russian invasion costs money. The EU’s sanctions against Russia, which undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, remain under constant review. Any decision to impose additional measures on Russia or its supporters is taken unanimously by the European Council,” she said.
MEP Viola von Cramon has said that Serbia can show that it wants to join the European Union by aligning with the sanctions against Russia.
“Serbia has to show clearly where its place is and if it really wants to join the European Union it has to align with the sanctions on Russia but no introduction of sanctions will replace our monitoring of media freedom or human rights,” she said.
Von Cramon said that Serbia can count on EU aid if it decides to impose sanctions on Russia but added that this does not automatically mean that the country will be on an easier path to the EU.
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