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Serbia 'could start EU accession talks soon'

23 January 2007, 15:07 CET
Serbia 'could start EU accession talks soon'

Erhard Busek

(BERLIN) - Serbia could start accession talks with the European Union as soon as a government is formed following last weekend's elections, the coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe said on Tuesday.

Erhard Busek told German radio there was a good chance coalition talks in Belgrade would yield a pro-European government despite initial results showing that the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party won the most votes.

If so, he said, Serbia had a better change of speedy accession than Turkey, whose candidacy is hampered by its refusal to recognise Cyprus.

"Negotiations are in the pipeline, but first we need a Serbian government," Busek told Deutschlandradio Kultur.

"We must make work of extending the peace zone created by the European Union to the Balkan states as well," he said.

The nationalist hardliners appeared to have won 29 percent of votes but fell short of securing an outright parliamentary majority.

Observers say pro-Western parties should be able to form a comfortable majority government.

The European Union has urged the "speedy formation" of a pro-European coalition in Belgrade.

EU officials said the bloc wants to see a moderate government emerge that is ready to cooperate with the UN war crimes court, which could lead to the unblocking of talks on closer ties.

The EU froze a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Belgrade last May, mainly over its failure to surrender to the tribunal former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, who is believed to be hiding in Serbia.

Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe

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