H.E. HENK VAN DEN DOOL, Dutch Ambassador to Serbia: SERBIA IS A FRONTRUNNER IN EU ACCESSION

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In the past two years, Diplomacy&Commerce magazine has given to its readers abundance of news from politics, business and culture, has reported on the opinions of relevant stakeholders both from Serbia and abroad, covering all segments of life, and opened up topics that were not written or talked about enough. With its latest issue, Diplomacy&Commerce is celebrating its second anniversary in Serbia. We are very proud of the fact that, in two years and 24 issues, we have managed to interview the leaders of the Serbian political, business and diplomatic community, as well as the renowned regional and the global public figures. In these past 24 issues, we have also published special supplements dedicated to overall relations between Serbia and European and world countries.

We have asked Serbian officials – Serbian PM, government ministers, ambassadors and representatives of business associations in Serbia – to give us their opinions about the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to become an EU member, and about the investment climate in the West Balkan region.

1. What do you think are essentially the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to be ready for EU membership by 2025?

  1. Do Serbia and the Western Balkans have enough capacity to attract large multi-nation companies to their markets?

1 EU accession is a merit-based process. The conditions the different candidate-countries must meet have been known from the beginning and I’m happy to see that Serbia is a frontrunner. Nevertheless, comprehensive and convincing reforms are still required, most notably on the rule of law. There can be no compromise on essential EU-values such as media freedom, an independent judiciary and respect for fundamental rights. Furthermore, we strongly support all efforts aimed at reconciliation with neighboring countries as well as genuine attempts to reach a comprehensive and legally binding normalization of relations with Kosovo. The goal is set – reaching it will take hard work and strong political commitment.

2 A region comprising 20 million people, sharing a European perspective as well as good prospects for economic growth, makes for an interesting market for any company – especially for large multinationals. The successful presence of a number of large and well-known corporations in Serbia and the region, several of them Dutch, is proof of this. That said, companies as well as e.g. the recently published EU Western Balkans Strategy agree that persistent weaknesses in the rule of law and poor functioning of institutions are still holding the region back. If the region is to unlock its potential and attract more multinational companies and FDI, addressing these issues is key.

 

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