Brussels has given Serbia a cautionary note, saying it must call off the proposed new free-trade deal with Russia, in order to become a member of the European Union. Serbia earlier announced it’s plans to join the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in October.
However, according to a spokesperson for the European Commission, Serbia will have to cancel all current bilateral free trade agreements to be eligible to join the bloc.
The statement was released by the commission after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian Ambassador Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko came together for a meeting, to discuss a deal that would give Serbia an access to 180 million people in the market.
The European Union’s sole market in comparison at present comprises nearly 500 million consumers, with an estimated worth of €17 trillion.
Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko shared on twitter that “this is a significant event” which has been receiving due attention from the media.
The Eurasian Economic Union, set-up in 2015, includes countries like Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan as members.
Serbia has been an ally of Moscow for years. So it would be quite a decision for Serbia as joining the bloc means aligning with their policies. Currently EU’s policy includes imposing trade sanctions on Russia for its conflict with Ukraine.
Serbia made a bid to join the EU in 2009, and it become an official nominee in 2012. But the talks begun in 2014, and since then, negligible progress could be seen.
According to some in Belgrade, the aspiring country will struggle to become an authorized member until 2025.
Both Serbia and Kosovo have been asked to solve their discrepancies in order to speed up membership talks with the EU.
Dialogue between the two nations stopped in November after Kosovo imposed a 100% tax on Serbian and Bosnian goods, counterattacking them for not recognising the land-locked region as a country.