The European Union outgoing chief diplomat in Serbia Sem Fabrizi said he expected the bloc would open new clusters in accession negotiations with Belgrade before the end of the year, the state RTS reported on Wednesday.
He will be replaced by Emanuele Giaufret, who currently heads the EU Delegation to Israel.
Fabrizi told the state TV that “we saw a positive message at the conference in June. Reforms resume, Serbia empowers their dynamics, and new clusters should open by the end of the year. That’s a possibility, and the focus should be on it.”
Speaking about criticism related to the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against organised crime and corruption, Fabrizi reiterated those were priority areas.
“It’s the most difficult to accomplish them and that needs time. The new methodology (in the accession talks) will speed them up and make it easier to follow progress through clusters,” Fabrizi said.
He added Serbia’s progress in the second half of 2021 and the first of 2022 would be concrete and noted in the following European Commission report.
Brussels did not open any chapter in negotiations with Belgrade in a year and a half. Fabrizi sees the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of the new methodology as the reasons for that.
He added the dialogue with Pristina on the normalisation of relations as a critical element for Serbia’s EU membership and said Brussels was doing everything for its success.
“The last round of the dialogue was probably the most difficult of all. The two sides must be committed to the dialogue, and it is a crucial element for regional stability,” Fabrizi said.
Regarding the inter-party dialogue in Serbia on the election conditions, Fabrizi said it had been good so far.
“I expect concrete ideas at the next meeting (between Serbia’s ruling and opposition parties and the European Parliament members) in September, which could lead to an agreement about some points,” Fabrizi said.
In the meantime, arrested members of an organised criminal clan claimed links with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin and some other high-ranked officials, saying they did some jobs under their orders. All mentioned in the transcripts published by some independent media denied the claims and accused political foes of being behind the defence strategy of the group suspected of the most heinous crimes.
The origin and the leakage of the transcripts caused concern, and the Bar Association warned that if they were true, it violated the attorney-client privilege and demanded an investigation.
Also, the journalists’ associations warned about attacks by the pro-regime TV channels and print media on the investigative KRIK network’s journalists who published the first transcript.