Starović: Visit of President of the European Council Charles Michel to Belgrade as a sign of great respect for and attention towards Serbia

20. May 2022.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nemanja Starović considers yesterday's visit of President of the European Council Charles Michel to Belgrade as well as his discussion with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić about the idea of forming a European geopolitical community to be very important, as they were signs of great respect for and attention towards Serbia.

Speaking on Radio Television of Serbia, State Secretary Starović said that the idea of ​​forming an additional umbrella institutional mechanism that would unite not only EU members but also countries with which the EU cooperates, including its former members like Great Britain, had been circulating in Brussels and other EU member state capitals for several months. “It remains to be seen what the concrete content of that proposal will be. There is a healthy dose of optimism. I agree with the assessment of President Vučić that this could be extremely useful for Serbia,” State Secretary Starović emphasised, adding that President Vučić implied that he would propose to the Government that Serbia should join [such mechanism].


State Secretary Starović explained that, according to Charles Michel, the formation of such an umbrella institutional mechanism would by no means be a substitute for EU accession or a “waiting room for full membership”, or any alternative, because Serbia would still be in the process of EU accession, but that it would speed up that process.


State Secretary Starović noted, however, that to date Serbia had opened 22 negotiation chapters out of a total of 35 ― a stage by which all other candidate countries from the previous rounds of accession had been given complete certainty in the form of a specific date on which they would become full members. “We need a greater degree of certainty in the final stage of the accession process and a specific date, which is also under discussion. I believe that we will have the opportunity to discuss it in the forthcoming months,” State Secretary Starović said.

In this regard, State Secretary Starović mentioned the importance of the summit of EU member states and the Western Balkans countries on 23 June, organised by the French presidency in Brussels, after which much more information would be available, as well as the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Belgrade shortly before the summit, in mid-June. “I believe many things important to us will be on the table and that we will get a higher degree of certainty regarding whether we will become a full member and in what way,” he said.

Going back to today's session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Turin, State Secretary Starović noted that Italy, presently chairing the Committee, had not included the application of representatives of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Priština in the draft agenda of the session. “Unfortunately, it does not preclude a member state to propose, at the very beginning of a session when the agenda is being set, that the topic be included in the agenda. For this reason, there is a high degree of alertness. Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selaković is in Turin, where he will attend the session of the Committee of Ministers. We will do everything in our power to protect the vital state and national interests of Serbia,” State Secretary Starović emphasised.

Explaining the procedures in the Council of Europe, State Secretary Starović said that even if at some point, even on that day, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe were to initiate, by a two-thirds majority, an accession procedure for the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Priština, such process would be extremely demanding, complicated, and time consuming. “The Committee of Ministers transfers the case to the competent Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), where a two-thirds majority is also required, PACE then transfers it to three competent committees for discussion, the whole case then goes back to PACE which also decides by a two-thirds majority, and at the final step it goes back to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe”, he said.

State Secretary Starović added that technically, the entire procedure could not last under a year, and that it was very likely that it would last much, much longer than that. “In any event, a very serious, difficult and long-lasting diplomatic and political struggle will follow,” said State Secretary Starović, and also noted that Belgrade should point out to its international partners that the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Priština were making unilateral actions and violating the Brussels and the Washington Agreements.