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CSS Representatives attended the Conference at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs

Srdjan Korac and Aleksandar Fatic represented CSS at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs conference on "The Former Yugoslav Republics: 20 Years On", with Fatic speaking on "The Ethics of the Russian-Serbian Energy Embrace". The seminar provided ample opportunity for liaison in the margins and showed a great solidarity between the diplomatic services of the former Yugoslav republics.

However, the message from the EU representatives appeared to be that, while the EU is prepared to grant Serbia a candidate status this year, the date for the beginning of accession negotiations is likely to be held back. In his presentation, Aleksandar Fatic argues that Serbia is facing choices that make it difficult for her not to foster a closer relationship with Russia, especially in energy terms, and that the EU is placing additional pressure on Belgrade by holding out the prospect of membership, yet denying the date for the accession negotiations. He argued that Kosovo should not be treated as "the threshold issue" for Serbia's accession, as some diplomats suggested, and that the reason for the current stalemate with regard to Kosovo is the fact that the EU has adopted as a dogma the position that "frozen conflicts cannot be allowed". Fatic argued that frozen conflicts are a reality, and are in fact "much better than flaring ones". He further argued that there is no reason not to progress Serbia's accession regardless of a frozen conflict with Prishtina, and allow this conflict to be resolved later on within the EU, which will allow it to be considerably diffused.

Insisting on Belgrade's explicit or implicit recognition of Kosovo's independence, which is the position taken by the EU at the moment, is not realistic, and forces Serbia away from the EU and into a closer strategic alliance with Russia.

In addition to the conference on the former Yugoslav republics, Korac and Fatic participated in a working seminar with colleagues from the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki on the environmental and energy aspects of security in the Balkans, which should result in a series of joint papers.

Conference Programme is available at: http://www.fiia.fi/fi/event/386/