Serbia cannot begin accession talks with the EU until it deals the its problematic relationship with Kosovo.
That is the message from the European Commission in its anual report on countries who want join the EU – including Serbia, which gained candidate status in March.
“Serbia needs to deliver on sustainable and visible improvement in relations with Kosovo. When Serbia delivers on this key priority we will inform the member states and they would hopefully take positive decision on starting and opening accession negotiation with Serbia,” EU Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle told euronews.
Serbia’s prime minister Ivica Dacic has criticised the report’s wording which refers to ‘territorial integrity’, saying it would have been more honest to ask Serbia to recognise an independent Kosovo, which Belgrade does not.
The report criticised Ankara for a recent poor relationship with the EU and there is still the sticking point of Cyprus – divided into Greek and Turkish parts.
During his interview with euronews, Füle echoed the report in expressing worries over civil liberties and human rights issues in Turkey – the largest EU candidate.
“Despite the number of judicial packages they still have not addressed the main issue; that is the ambiguity of the definition of the freedom of expression from one side and the incitement of violence on the other side – the dividing line between those two,” he said.
Fule told euronews that after Croatia becoming part of the EU in 2013, the most probable next countries to join will be Iceland and then Montenegro.