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Serbia may become candidate for EU membership this year

Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said today that Serbia will in due time settle the debt to the Israeli company ImageSat International NV for renting the disputed satellite and added that the budget allocated funds for this purpose.

Cvetkovic said in an interview with the news agency Fonet that the agreement signed in December with the Israeli side stipulates the payment until 1 February.

The agreement provides that Serbia will pay €27.85 million, which is a sum much lower than the one Serbia would pay if the settlement was not reached, he said.

The Prime Minister announced that the issue of electricity prices is likely to be discussed at the end of winter, in March, and all will be done to create a balance between consumers and the electric power company Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS).

The price of electricity in Serbia is the lowest in Europe. This, on the one hand, has a negative impact on the functioning of the EPS, and on the other hand gives a bad signal to consumption that is higher so the power is used more, Cvetkovic explained.

Because certain categories of population live hard, price corrections will need to balance between the two opposite goals – to get a company with sufficient investment potential and not to overburden the people excessively.

The Prime Minister expressed confidence that this year will be better than the previous one, with a note that Serbia will make identical GDP growth to the one at the beginning of the crisis.

We plan is to reduce inflation this year. According to the projections of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), inflation will continue to be relatively high and will remain the same, while in the second half of the year it is expected to fall well below that level and to stand at about 5% to 6%, he said.

The Prime Minister expressed the hope that Telekom Srbija will be sold at a very good price, considering that a lot of big companies are interested in the acquisition.

Cvetkovic recalled that the government made some crucial steps in the field of European integration.

If we use this year in the right way to carry out reforms, we will get a candidate status for the EU and the date for starting negotiations, he said.

If we manage that, the current government will have achieved all major steps, apart from the actual negotiations on chapters and the actual membership, he said.

Cvetkovic said that the upcoming dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is a significant diplomatic victory for Serbia, with the reminder that Serbia, immediately after the UN passed the resolution, set up a team and was ready to start negotiations already a few months ago.

The other side in the negotiations has some internal problems and at this point no one is looking at Serbia as a factor that prolongs the process, he said.

On the contrary, we are those who want to move ahead as soon as possible, said the Prime Minister.

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