EU hopes Hungary will not veto Serbia

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2011 9:46 AM
EU hopes Hungary will not veto Serbia

The EU's enlargement commissioner expressed the hope Hungary will not veto Serbia's candidacy for membership because it is upset over a property restitution law in the Balkan country.

Hungary has hinted that it may block Serbia's accession bid to join the EU because of its opposition to the new law. Though EU officials have said the law is in line with European standards, Hungary says it's biased against Serbia's ethnic Hungarian and other minorities because it forbids the return of property to the families of those who served with the pro-Nazi occupying forces during World War II.

"Discussions will continue and I hope there will be no need for extreme measures," Commissioner Stefan Fule said Friday after meeting Serbia's Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic.

Fule visited Belgrade just days after the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, supported Serbia's bid to formally become a candidate for membership. However, it refused to set a date for the start of entry talks before Serbia improves ties with breakaway Kosovo.

The law on the restitution of property seized by the communist authorities after World War II, was part of the EU-requested reform package that Serbia had to approve to win its candidacy status.

Serbia says the law excludes individuals who served with the occupiers and their property, and not any ethnic group as a whole.

"We will clarify through legal solutions and political dialogue," Serbia's President Boris Tadic said Friday.

EU's Fule insisted that the EU will monitor the law's implementation to make sure that the process is transparent and not discriminatory.

Fule also urged Serbia to "use the momentum" created by the European Commission's positive response to its candidacy bid to normalize relations with Kosovo following a border dispute.

"The ball is in your court," he told Serbian leaders.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has refused to recognize the split, even though most EU nations have established diplomatic ties with the new state.