Serbian Lawmakers Approve Laws Needed for EU Membership Bid

Serbian lawmakers approved public property and restitution laws, meeting some of the conditions the country needs to meet to qualify for European Union candidacy in three weeks’ time.

Lawmakers today approved the public property law, designed to further decentralize Serbia and pave way for more foreign investment. The lack of the measure has allowed the central government to reap most of revenue from property sales since the 2000 ouster of the then President Slobodan Milosevic.

Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic’s Cabinet, facing elections next spring, seeks to convince the European Commission by Oct. 12 that the country is fit to be a membership candidate. The government stepped up fight against corruption, organized crime and handed over 46 men who were indicted for war crimes committed during fighting in 1990s related to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia to the tribunal in The Hague.

Lawmakers also cleared the restitution law, setting rules to compensate owners who had their property confiscated by Communists 70 years ago.

The law allows compensation both in cash and in kind. The government will issue a 15-year bond to repay the debt and state borrowing should not exceed 2 billion euros ($2.68 billion), or 6 percent of gross domestic product, to preserve macroeconomic stability.

The limit for the fiscal strain was agreed on late last month with the International Monetary Fund, whose board is due to confirm a new, 1 billion-euro precautionary loan program with Serbia on Sept. 29.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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