This time around we have also asked the representatives of the authorities, diplomatic corps, international institutions, business associations, media and many others to express their views on the possible re-arrangement of power in the world, the European and regional political scene, the influences on Serbia’s accession to the EU, economic development, investments in culture, and as an inevitable question this year, elections which are taking place in many countries, including Serbia. We talked to H.E. CARLO LO CASCIO, Italian Ambassador to Serbia

The EU is facing Brexit and enlargement issues. What will be the outcome of the negotiations about a free trade agreement with the UK and how will the new accession methodology consolidate the EU and affect the Western Balkans?

Even if we are dealing with the two issues at the same time, Brexit and enlargement are two very different processes. On one side we have a country that unfortunately decided to leave the EU and is now trying to negotiate an FTA, on the other side we have the Western Balkan countries that are working hard to be part of the Union. I can proudly say that Italy played an essential role in keeping the debate on enlargement at the top of the EU agenda. Prime Minister Conte was among the first to point out that the decision of the European Council of not opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia last October was a historical mistake. Immediately after that, we promoted an open discussion in Brussels with our partners and the Commission. We are in favour of a new methodology aimed at improving the accession process by making it more effective and efficient. Nevertheless, in our view, it is equally important to preserve the progress already made by candidate countries, in particular by the frontrunners Serbia and Montenegro.

Elections at different levels will take place in five Western Balkan countries in 2020, including Serbia, plus this is an election year in the United States. What trends can we expect to see in the light of these developments in Serbia, the Western Balkans and eventually in the world?

Elections are at the heart of democracy, since they allow citizens to express their political opinion by voting. Here in Serbia administrative and parliamentary elections will take place on the 26th of April, but already in the past months the European Parliament worked closely with all the political forces of the country to facilitate a constructive dialogue between the majority and the democratic opposition. The European Union, together with all the other international partners of Serbia, will continue to follow the situation. I am confident that the voting procedures will take place in full transparency, since it is in the interest of Serbia to show to the region and to the world its democratic values.

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