01/06/2012 // New York, NY, USA // Igor Purlantov // Daniel Mathers
Serbia has recently made large strides in its effort to join the European Union according to Igor Purlantov. Although Serbia officially submitted its application to join the EU in 2008, until now its attempt to join has been hindered by several requests from the 27 member organization. These requests include Serbia’s full cooperation on the extradition of accused war criminals and the strengthening of its democratic institutions and rule of law.
With the arrest and extradition to The Hague of wanted war criminal Ratko Mladic along with its open cooperation in tracking down other suspected war criminals, Serbia has shown that it is indeed a viable candidate that can abide by the many EU requirements for membership. With the additional arrest and extradition of suspected war criminal Goran Hadzic, Serbia has further reinforced its position as a viable candidate for membership according to Mr. Purlantov.
Further strengthening Serbia’s case for membership into the economic and political organization is the fact that the Balkan Tiger, which has averaged 6.6% GDP growth during the past three years, is one of the strongest economies in the region. Buoyed by its young and educated work force, the Serbian economy has managed to steam ahead in spite of recent unemployment hovering around 14%. According to Mr. Purlantov this bodes particularly well for Serbia in its quest to the join the European Union particularly when looking at fellow Balkan nation and EU member Greece.
The ability of Serbia to cooperate with the European Union has already provided some recent benefits. Since late 2010 Serbians have enjoyed visa free travel to the Schengen area which includes most of the European Union. This has brought about several positive impacts for the country which will be further bolstered with its admittance into the EU, including increased foreign direct investment and tourism. It is now just a matter of time before Serbia will join the European Union and achieve its full economic and political potential according to Mr. Purlantov. For those willing to place a wager, on or before 2015 would be a good place to start.
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