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MEPs Call on EU Heads: Freeze EU Accession Negotiations for Serbia Now, Until It Distances Itself From Russia

A group of nine members of the European Parliament has written an open letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, demanding an immediate halt to negotiations with Serbia for the latter’s accession to the EU.

The request was made after MEPs, all members of Renewing Europe, asserted in the same letter that Serbia “shows a dangerous drift toward authoritarianism that is in stark contrast to its parallel pursuit of EU accession”.

In a letter dated March 11 and signed by Clement Grosel, Ilhan Kyuciuk, Petras Ostrevites, Malik Azmani, Jose Ramon Poza, Nicolas Beer, Bart Grothes, Ormas Paet and Ramona Victoria Strogario, the latter revealed their concerns about Serbia’s recent actions in connection with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

According to MEPs, the Serbian authorities have ignored the commitments made as a candidate country for EU membership, and have listed several areas in which they assert that this country has violated these commitments. The same also highlights that among the violations also Serbia’s refusal to impose sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression against Ukraine.

“If Serbia chooses to ignore the call to join the European Union Common Position on Russia again, we are asking for a temporary freeze on EU accession negotiations with the Serbian government and a halt to EU financial support,” MEP Clement Grossheli tweeted while sharing the message.

The letter also notes that MEPs are aware of Serbia’s intrinsic economic, social and cultural ties with Russia, while also highlighting the fact that in recent years, this EU candidate country has strengthened its cooperation with the Putin regime, particularly in this field. In the field of energy and military-technical cooperation, as well as with the dictator of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.

These moves, according to MEPs, show that Serbia has made significant steps backwards in areas such as the rule of law, human rights, media freedom and freedom of expression, reports.

MEPs are convinced that Serbia is turning every day into an authoritarian state, modeled on Putin while also aspiring to EU membership.

“Serbia has every right to follow Putin’s lead if it so desires, but it should be clear about its intentions and stop pretending that it has serious aspirations for EU membership. The letter states that Serbia is free to decide which direction it wants to take.” However, she cannot continue to be considered a trusted interlocutor and cannot continue to benefit from pre-joining financial assistance until she has made her decision.

At a press conference following the Ukrainian invasion by Russia, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia fully supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but announced that his government would not impose sanctions on Russia.

He said, “Whatever anyone wants, Serbia cares about its national interests but also respects its traditional friendships.”

Just today, reported that Air Serbia has doubled the number of flights between the Russian capital and Belgrade, offering 15 weekly flights compared to seven flights as before. The move comes in the wake of the growing demand for such flights, as all countries of the European Union and the Schengen area have banned Russian airlines from their airspace.

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