Serbia to apply for EU bid by mid 2009 - PM
Serbia will apply for the European Union membership by mid-2009, even if its pre-accession pact with the bloc does not kicks off, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said on Tuesday.
"We plan to submit the application for the European Union membership in the first half of 2009," Cvetkovic said.
Last April, Serbia signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, the first step towards membership.
But the Netherlands has blocked the implementation of the SAA or some trade benefits proposed by some EU member states, since Belgrade does not arrest and hand over former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
In an interview with Reuters earlier this month, Enlargement Commissionaire Olli Rhen urged Balkan countries not to rush, but rather step up necessary reforms.
Serbia will unilaterally start implementing the trade agreement, cutting import duties on goods coming from EU member states.
Serbia's neighbour Montenegro applied for the EU membership two weeks ago and other Balkan states are expected to follow.
The Czech Republic takes over the rotating EU presidency in January.
Reuters Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2008, 13:18