A European Union meeting with Balkan leaders meant to praise regional cooperation in Europe’s most volatile corner has taken public note of a backsliding to nationalism by Serbia. The Zagreb Summit was looking to reinforce reform progress.
Only the former Yugoslavia’s republics, Slovenia – not part of the forum – has joined the EU. Regional neighbours Romania and Bulgaria are in the EU now. Croatian membership is under negotiation, as is Turkey’s. Macedonia is a candidate. Albania has EU association status. Independent Montenegro and its former federal partner Serbia are still in association negotiation.
The election this week of a hardline nationalist as parliament speaker in Belgrade has stoked concern in the EU and worried Serbia’s neighbours. The European Commission has, however, hailed “good progress” towards the formation of a pro-European reform government in Serbia.
This coincides with the country taking up the chair of the Committee of Ministers at the human rights defence body the Council of Europe, in which the EU states constitute a clear majority of the now 47 members. Montenegro, after a lapse in its Council membership since it became independent from Serbia last year, has just rejoined the Strasbourg-based organisation.