Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union urged Hungary to drop its threat to veto Serbia’s candidacy to the trading bloc over the Balkan country’s restitution law.
Hungary on Oct. tied support of Serbia’s EU bid to lawmakers in Belgrade changing the law by December, arguing that it unfairly excludes people including ethnic Hungarians from restitution.
The EU will “closely monitor” the implementation of the law, making it unnecessary for Hungary to block its southern neighbor’s candidacy, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule told reporters in Belgrade today.
“The law needs to guarantee transparency and non- discrimination,” he said, adding that the Commission will be “following the implementation of this law based on those principles” and that “there’s no need for such extreme measures from anyone.”
Hungary argues that the law imposes a principle of collective guilt, preventing Hungarians in Serbia who had been recruited to join occupying forces during the World War II from being compensated.
The Commission on Oct. 12 recommended Serbia to be granted candidate status, with entry talks to start as soon as the country shows sufficient progress in dialogue with its former breakaway province of Kosovo and implements agreements they’ve already reached. The European Council needs to unanimously endorse the recommendation in December.
Serbia should “use the momentum” and make the necessary effort because “what really matters is when and how we can open accession talks with Serbia,” Fule said.
“The ball is on your side and when there’s substantial progress the commission will recommend that the talks commence,” he said after a meeting with Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic. The Commission won’t need to wait for the whole year to grant Serbia the date of entry talks.
Kosovo is recognized by 22 of 27 EU member states and Germany wants the unconditional resumption of dialogue with Serbia. Talks on economic and political ties were halted after Kosovo’s authorities declared a trade war on Serbia and sent their police and customs staff to control two administrative checkpoints.
--Editors: Balazs Penz, Douglas Lytle
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