BELGRADE – Serbia’s European integration will gain full momentum after the opening of Chapters 23 and 24 in the accession talks, but EU membership should not be expected to come soon, says Eduard Kukan MEP.

Kukan, who is visiting Belgrade as a member of the informal Friends of Serbia group of MEPs, told Tanjug that they had encouraged the Serbian authorities to continue preparations for EU membership, noting that Serbia had many friends in the European Parliament who sincerely wanted to see it in the EU.

He said that he had heard in Belgrade that the Serbian authorities were very committed to European integration but that they knew that the process was not easy and that it required reforms, which he said would pay off in the future as EU membership would bring many advantages to the citizens.

However, EU membership should not be expected to come soon, he said.

Asked how Brexit would affect the enlargement process, Kukan responded that he did not believe the enlargement process and developments in the wake of Brexit would affect one another.

However, the UK was a supporter of the enlargement and we have lost a large country that could have played a positive role in the process, he noted.

It has been 16 years since Serbia, as part of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, began negotiations to enter the European Union.

Some Serbians think the debate has gone too long and the EU’s loss of Britain means it may no longer be worth the effort to join. Serbia’s government says it is not abandoning reforms to improve rule of law, end corruption, and enact regulations to conform with EU trade rules.