Darko Čačić wrote in an article submitted to Serbia that as long as Aleksandar Vučić is the country’s most powerful politician, Serbia should not be expected to make progress in joining the European Union. EURACTIV Bulgaria.
Darko Čačić is a Serbian journalist working in Belgrade.
Serbian President Vucic and other senior officials unreservedly loyal to him have been trying to convince Serbian citizens that the impasse in the country’s European integration process is not Belgrade’s fault.
The Serbian authorities deny guilty of the deadlock in negotiations with the EU, claiming that they have done everything they can, and accusing the alliance of being dishonest on the issue of expansion in the near future.
After the EU-Serbia intergovernmental meeting held in Luxembourg on June 22, again without any negotiation chapters, Vucic said that Serbia “has made significant progress on its European road.”
He added that this result is missing because there is currently “clearly there is expansion fatigue” within the EU.
“We have done everything the EU asked us to do, but nothing happened. We should continue to work hard. If they want (open the chapter), we will thank them, and if they don’t want to, we will also thank them. We will be at the end of the year. Compare our growth rates,” Vucic said, implying that Serbia’s economic growth will be stronger than that of EU countries.
Vucic once again made an unrealistic assessment of Serbia’s progress on the road to the European Union, saying that the country can “ensure that all chapters of negotiations are opened before the next presidential election to be held before April 2022.” Vucic also relativeized the EU’s objections to Serbia, claiming that “there are also objections involving 90% of EU member states”.
He pointed out that “nothing depends on Serbia” and pointed out that North Macedonia has not yet started negotiations with the European Union, although it has met all the requirements of the Commission. Vucic refuted allegations that certain EU member states hindered the Western Balkan countries from making progress on the European road.
“The stories of Bulgaria, Croatia or Romania that prevent us from progress, you know what you can do with it! Obviously, the European Union currently has no desire to expand,” said the Serbian president.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabić follows in the footsteps of her party leader Vučić. She also said that in the process of joining the European Union, “there will always be some political games.”
Burnabic said that the entire Western Balkans is frustrated with the EU because some member states oppose expansion despite verbal support. “Whatever you do, it will never be enough. I think this is a political game that will backfire because the people you have been criticizing will get tired at some point,” Burner Beach added.
Serbia’s minister in charge of the country’s accession to the European Union, Jadranka Yoksimovic, is also aligned with her party boss Vucic. She blamed the “Unprepared EU” for the failure to open another chapter in the EU membership negotiations with Serbia.
What actually happened on June 22 was that the EU only recognized what Serbia did a long time ago, that is, it opened up the first group involving basic values. According to the new method of negotiating with the EU, these chapters are divided into six groups. Serbia began its accession negotiations with the European Union in January 2014.
During the negotiations with Serbia, the EU opened up all cluster 1 chapters from 2015 to 2018. At the intergovernmental meeting, due to insufficient progress in Serbia, mainly in this area, some EU member states did not agree to any new clusters to open up the rule of law.
Serbia’s progress on the road to the European Union has not been blocked by Brussels. The rule of law and democratic conditions in the country prevented it. Although they have given up aggressive statements against the EU in recent months, the Serbian authorities have simulated the implementation of reforms.
The essence of Serbia’s entry into the European Union is judicial independence, but the constitutional amendment process initiated by the government cannot ensure this.
The political control of the judiciary will not be revoked by constitutional amendments. It will only be transferred from the Serbian Parliament to the High Judicial Council and the National Prosecutors Committee. These two institutions are controlled by persons elected by the Parliament.
The main reason for Serbia’s lack of progress on the road to the European Union is that Vucic maintains strong control over the country. His Serbian Progressive Party continues to erode media freedom and regress on democratic reforms.
Last year, Freedom House, a democratic watchdog agency, criticized “Aleksandar Vučić’s increasing number of state captures, abuses of power, and strongman tactics over the years.”
As long as Serbian leaders lack the political will to implement substantive rule of law reforms and improve democratic conditions, Serbia will not take any measures against the EU.
The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue under the auspices of the European Union has reached a deadlock with no obvious results in the past three years. The balance of Belgrade’s foreign policy and the difficult relationship with the International Criminal Court in The Hague have also hindered progress. The government continues to build strong relations with China and Russia.
Vučić is a former ultra-nationalist who has publicly expressed his support for the European position, but has never really liked the basic values of the European Union. He became pro-European purely for opportunistic reasons, and he realized that otherwise, he would not have the opportunity to rule the country.
When he came to power in 2012, Vucic made joining the European Union a priority because he knew that otherwise the country would fall into a very difficult economic situation. Although most of his voters opposed the European Union, Vucic ensured wider support due to his pro-European attitude.
Taking into account the weaknesses of independent media, this information is well controlled, and the views of government critics have not touched the majority of the population.
However, Vucic will not give up control of the social process, because this may jeopardize his continued power. In short, as long as he remains the country’s most powerful politician, he is Serbia’s pledge to move towards the European Union.