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Lithuania still blocks Serbia's EU candidacy

Audronius Ažubalis
Andriaus Ufarto/BFL nuotr. / Audronius Ažubalis
Šaltinis: BNS

On Monday, Lithuania expressed doubts whether Serbia was worth an EU candidate status, despite the French foreign affairs minister announcing earlier in the day the agreement had been reached.

"Without naming specific member states, I can say there was no common opinion on granting candidacy status in the Foreign Affairs Council today," Ažubalis told BNS by phone from Brussels.

In his words, Lithuania is of the opinion that Serbia still has to fulfill commitments on Kosovo, set last December, and "not everything is completed" in this area.

"As an EU enlargement enthusiast, Lithuania has always been in favor of enlargement but also in favor of responsible fulfillment of commitments taken on. We remember commitments and obligations for Lithuania and the way we accepted them. I, therefore, believe the December obligations by the European Council to do certain things have to be fulfilled," the minister said.

Ažubalis added that diplomats were scheduled to meet on Monday evening to discuss possible conclusions, and the minister should decide on them on Tuesday.

Ažubalis's comments contrasted to those of French Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppe who earlier told journalists the agreement had been reached.

"There was an agreement today. (…) At last there were no further objections today," Juppe told journalists in Brussels during a break in ministerial talks in Brussels.

Lithuanians see Serbia as a part of Russia in the EU.

Lithuania has been recently locked in a bitter spat with Serbia over the chairmanship of the UN General Assembly as well as on trade issues.

Lithuanian diplomats are also concerned over Russia's influence on Serbia.

"They see Serbia as a part of Russia in the EU. It's a real issue for Lithuania," the AFP news agency cited an unnamed diplomat in Brussels.

According to AFP, Romania has also raised problems and is seeking guarantees on the respect of the Romanian minority settled in Serbia.

Lithuania was astonished this week by Serbia's decision to compete in the election to the high post in the United Nations (UN), the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said amid the continuing diplomatic dispute where Lithuania criticized Serbia for insufficient progress in the European Union (EU) integration process.

Lithuanian diplomats maintain they announced back in 2004 their intentions to seek the post of the UN General Assembly president. Ambassador Dalius Čekuolis is nominated for the position.

Nevertheless, Serbia recently proposed Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremič for the post. Both countries are part of the Eastern European group which will delegate a chairman this year in accordance to the principle of regional representation. Serbia has already secured the support of Russia, which also backs Belgrade on the Kosovo matter.

Lithuanian diplomats have also emphasized their dissatisfaction with Serbia's treatment of Lithuanian investors.

"Alita, Arvi, Sanitex were the biggest Lithuanian investors in Serbia before their contracts in Serbia were denounced. Having this in mind, we stress that a country seeking membership in the EU should uphold the principles of rule of law which are among the basic values shared by the members of the European community," Giedrius Puodžiūnas, director of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry's Information and Public Relations Department, said this week.

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