EU draft report says Serbia may get candidate status in 2009

18:52, 31 October 2008
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But it must tackle corruption

Serbia could obtain EU candidate status in 2009 but it must tackle corruption and create an independent judiciary, the draft of a European Commission report says, RIA Novosti reported.

The final report on the Western Balkans is to be published on November 5 and could differ from the draft shown to journalists.

The draft said "corruption remains widespread and constitutes a serious problem in Serbia," but also stressed that Serbia had made "significant" progress on the way toward the European integration.

Serbia and the European Union signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) in September, paving the way toward talks on Serbia joining the EU.

The 27-member alliance has given a positive assessment to the presidential and legislative election in Serbia, as "there has been increased stability in government and greater consensus on European integration."

Brussels has welcomed Belgrade`s transfer of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the UN war crimes tribunal, saying that it was a "step forward" in Serbia`s cooperation with the international body and a condition for the country`s accession to the EU.

However, the draft report noted that "relations between EU and Serbia have been affected by the declaration of independence of Kosovo."

"It is important that Serbia demonstrates a constructive attitude towards Kosovo`s participation in regional initiatives and international forums," the draft added.

Kosovo has so far been recognized by 47 states, including the United States and the majority of EU countries. Russia has backed its ally Serbia in refusing to acknowledge Kosovo. China has also refused to recognize it.

RIA Novosti
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