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Serbian early vote set as means of hastening EU-required reforms

April 24, 2016 - SERBIA

Belgrade wants early European Union accession and has dissolved parliament two years early to increase the country's chances. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic argues that the new term for his government will put Serbia in a better position to enact the fundamental reforms required for accession.

Kosovo, a Serbian province before the war of 1998-1999, remains a sticking point between Belgrade and Brussels.

President Tomislav Nikolic's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) holds an absolute majority in parliament with 158 out of 250 seats and is expected to do well in the April poll. Newswires report that former ultranationalist Vuviv now presents himself as a pro-European reformer, which has upset far-right parties opting for closer ties with Belgrade's traditional ally, Russia.

In December the EU opened the first two chapters of negotiations for Serbia's accession to the 28-nation bloc, although Brussels has ruled out any enlargement prior to 2020.

Kosovo also has designs on EU membership, and Brussels regards it as a potential member. Belgrade, on the other hand, doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence.

Serbia's president calls parliamentary vote for April 24 (Reuters 4 Mar 2016)

Kosovo: the vital questions (Guardian Feb 2008)

Kosovo (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Date written/update: 2016-03-18