Serbia, EU extol advantages of possible alliance

EU President Herman Van Rompuy speaks during a Serbia-EU Forum in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sept. 9, 2011. (Associated Press)EU President Herman Van Rompuy speaks during a Serbia-EU Forum in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sept. 9, 2011. (Associated Press)

By comparison, the average monthly EU income is about $4,551.

Milosevic, who oversaw a crackdown on ethnic minorities despite international sanctions in the 1990s, destroyed the country, Anna said, adding that his shadow still hangs over Belgrade. (Milosevic died in 2006 while standing trial on war crimes charges.)

Lingering perceptions stemming from Milosevic’s administration are some of the things Serbia is trying to change as it prepares for EU membership. Serbia handed over accused war criminals such as former Bosnian-Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic on May 31 and Croatian-Serb Gen. Goran Hadcic almost two months later. It also has been negotiating with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on peace talks with Kosovo.

“The arrests and transfers to The Hague of ICTY [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia] of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadcic represent a major achievement for international justice and hence for Serbia’s road to the EU,” Mr. Clancy said.

Even so, just over 30 percent of Serbians supported the handing over of Gen. Mladic to the ICTY.

Miroslav Zdravkovic, editor of the website Makroekonomija.org, which monitors the economies of Serbia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia, said that joining the EU could mean a shift of production to Serbian manufacturers, since Serbian labor has become cheaper than Chinese.

“The best Serbia can do at present is continue to intensify the reform process and [continue to act in a way] that makes it a predictable and reliable partner,” Ms. Delevic said.

Based on opinion polls by the SEIO, 84 percent of Serbians agree with the political and social reforms required for EU ascension such as democratic government, rule of law, human rights and a competitive market economy.

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