Serbia begins EU membership talks in Brussels

Serbian PM Ivica Dacic (left) speaking in Brussels, 21 Jan 14 Serbia's prime minister (left) says his country must embrace tough reforms

Related Stories

Serbia has started formal accession talks with the EU with the goal of joining the 28-nation bloc.

Serbian PM Ivica Dacic said the EU "is not only the goal, but also the means by which we will modernise our system".

The membership negotiations are expected to take several years, as Serbia has to bring its laws and institutions into line with EU norms.

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos led the EU team in Brussels. Greece is now chairing EU meetings.

The BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade says the Serbian government is led by former ultra-nationalists who converted to the cause of EU membership before they came to power two years ago.

Reform drive

Aleksandar Vucic, leader of the largest party in the governing coalition, has been the driving force, our correspondent says.

He told the BBC that joining the EU was the only sure way to transform Serbia after two decades of conflict, international embargoes and economic woe.

"If we don't change ourselves, if we don't do something regarding rule of law, if we don't do many other changes in other social spheres - we won't be successful in the future," he said.

Serbia's membership negotiations are expected to take at least six years.

Serbia's agreement to normalise relations with Kosovo was the key which allowed membership talks to start. Kosovo broke away from Serbia in a conflict in 1999 and declared independence in 2008 - a move that was condemned by Belgrade.

But a Kosovo-Serbia deal was struck through EU mediation last year.

The EU Ambassador to Serbia, Michael Davenport, told the BBC that "Serbia has made a lot of progress over the last three or four years - putting much stronger emphasis on regional co-operation, and in particular trying to sort out the issue of Kosovo".

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Europe stories


Features & Analysis

  • Man holding lipWitch hunt

    The country where a writer accused of blasphemy must run

  • Espresso cupNews quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?

  • Lauren Arrington holding up a fishSomething's fishy

    Scientist claims 'child prodigy' getting credit for his discovery

  • A woman's stomach with the words "I love IDF"'War porn'?

    Support - and disdain - for women posting sexy selfies for the IDF

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine


  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.