EU hopeful Serbia to sign agreement with Russian-led group

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Officials say Serbia will sign a free trade agreement with a Russian-led economic group, which could hamper the Balkan country’s efforts to join the European Union.

The deal between Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is expected to be signed on Oct. 25, according to a statement from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s office.

To join the EU, candidate countries must align their policies with the bloc’s, including imposing trade sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Serbia is Russia’s only Balkan ally.

Monday’s statement followed a meeting between Vucic and Russian Ambassador Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, who said the agreement will grant Serbia access to a market of 180 million people.

The EEU consists of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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