The European Affairs Committee of the German Parliament has given a green light for opening the first two chapters in accession negotiations between the European Union and Serbia, electronic media in Belgrade said on Friday.
The public broadcaster RTS, citing the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, said that the committee's chairman, Guenter Kirschbaum, had sent a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel to inform her of the committee's recommendation that the first two negotiation chapters be opened in December.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation said in a statement that the decision was made at an extraordinary session of the Bundestag and its adoption was preceded by intensive consultations on the European Commission's latest progress report on Serbia.
This is a clear sign that the country is moving towards Europe and shows that the consistent European approach by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is right, Kirschbaum said, adding that it was "very important" for the Bundestag that the August 25 agreement between Serbia and Kosovo marked an improvement in their relations and that the latest progress report on Serbia contained a lot of positive assessments.
Kirschbaum said that "Serbia's place is in Europe", but noted that a lot of tasks still lay ahead of it, including the fight against corruption, judicial reform and creation of a functioning state, according to the statement.
Serbia's former ambassador to Germany, Ivo Viskovic, told the B92 broadcaster that Serbia's constructive contribution to the dialogue with Pristina was among the factors that contributed the most to the Bundestag's decision. "It's clear that it's not Belgrade that is making problems but the other side," he noted.
Viskovic said that the first chapters could be expected to be opened "very soon, certainly before the end of the year, and most realistically in mid-December or by December 20."
The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Michael Davenport, announced on Thursday that the first negotiation chapters could be expected to be opened within the next few weeks.
Accession negotiations between the EU and Serbia formally began on January 21, 2014. Belgrade hopes to meet the necessary criteria and join the bloc in 2020.