Experts: Serbia Is Facing The Choice Between EU and Russia

Serbia has every right to enter the free trade zone with the EAEU, but the conditions for joining the EU provide for withdrawal from all bilateral trade agreements, Brussels warns.

Signing of the Free Trade Area Agreement (FTA) between Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is expected on October 25. Meanwhile, Brussels is not very glad with Belgrade’s rapprochement with the economic bloc, in which Russia plays the main role: Serbia is not just a candidate for EU membership, but a country with which Brussels is officially negotiating accession.

Prior to joining the European Union, Serbia may conclude any trade agreements with other countries or organizations. But by the time of accession, the state is obliged to withdraw from all bilateral trade agreements. This condition is mandatory for all candidate countries and is negotiated at the stage of negotiations on EU membership. The agreements between Brussels and Serbia provide for a closer rapprochement between Belgrade and the European Union in the field of foreign and security policy.

Most politicians in Brussels emphasize that Belgrade will ultimately have to make a choice between the EU and the EAEU. « We respect the political, cultural and religious ties between Russia and Serbia dating back hundreds of years, but in the end Serbia will have to decide in which integration association it wants to be, » said Franc Bogovič, member of the European Parliament’s delegation to Serbia, in an interview with DW.

The main economic partner of Serbia today is the European Union. According to the Statistical Bureau of the Republic of Serbia, in 2018, 67% of the country’s exports and 60% of imports accounted for EU countries. At the same time, the share of Russia, a key player in the EAEU, amounted to only 5.3 and 7.9 percent, respectively – despite the fact that the free trade agreement between the two countries was signed back in 2000.

Experts note that Serbia’s trade and economic relations with the European Union are much closer than with Russia, and that European investments in Serbia’s economy are many times greater than Russian ones. This means that Belgrade’s intention to conclude a free trade area agreement with the EAEU is, first of all, explained by political motives.

source: dw.de, reuters.com

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