At this sensitive time for EU-Serbia ties, Serbs could be offered visa-free access to the EU under talks proposed by Brussels – to start at the end of this month. Opinion polls show that affordable travel around Europe is the main reason Serbs want their country to join the EU.
Similar talks with other Western Balkan states were also mentioned. A European Commission spokesman said strict assessments would be made to ensure Serbia met criteria: ‘‘Today, the European Commission has decided to launch a visa-free dialogue with Serbia. Considering that people to people contacts are a key element towards closer cooperation between EU and Serbia, Vice-President Frattini has instructed his services to launch a structured dialogue with the Serbian authorities on a future visa free regime for Serbian citizens travelling to the European Union.”
On Belgrade’s cooperation handing over warcrimes suspects, on which a pre-EU-membership pact depends, the new chief UN warcrimes prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, has told EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana there has been no progress.
Solana endorsed the Netherlands’ most firm adherence to this conditionality. Several EU states have hinted at flexibility, hoping this will encourage Belgrade to stick to a pro-EU path.