June 15, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Serbia has not adopted a bill facilitating the acquisition of citizenship by Russians

After a warning from the European Union, Serbia refused to consider and adopt a bill proposed in April that provides for Russians to obtain citizenship under a simplified procedure after a year of residence in the country.

Thus, the hopes of many people who fled from Russia from the war collapsed, writes Financial Times – Roughly 200,000 Russians have arrived in the country since February 2022, hoping to obtain citizenship in a country that has a visa-free regime with the European Union.

Now foreigners can apply for Serbian citizenship only after five years of residence in the country. The new bill, which the Serbian government did not give a move to, would reduce the five-year period to one year – for those with a residence permit, employed or self-employed.

The law was developed as part of an ambitious plan to stimulate the economy, attract highly skilled migrants, and, among other things, to ease the rules for registering visitors. The bill was vigorously discussed in Russian-language social networks – both by those already living in Serbia, and by those who fled the war and mobilization, hoping to legally “settle” in Europe.

However, the EC, the newspaper writes, warned Belgrade that it was monitoring the situation, which could create risks for the security of the European Union, since between Serbia and EU established a visa-free regime. If the European Commission decides, it said in a statement, that Serbia’s plan to grant citizenship “would increase risks to internal security and the public situation in member countries of the bloc, the visa-free regime could be suspended.” The statement also recalls that last year the EC gave Belgrade “clear recommendations” on citizenship schemes.

A Serbian government adviser told the FT that the bill was “only a proposal” that “was not adopted.” With such a negative position of the EU, it will be difficult for the government to pass the law. Now, most likely, the residence permit will simply be extended for Russians who have arrived in the country since February 2022, says Elena Dzhankich, co-director of the Italian analytical center Global Citizenship Observatory.

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