"Given the overall enlargement fatigue in many parts of Europe and the rise of xenophobic parties, Serbia needs to brace itself for strong winds against its accession to the EU", warned ALDE vice-president Lousewies van der Laan at a conference in Belgrade. "At the same time, developments in Ukraine could spur some countries with a more geo-political approach to speed up Serbia's integration to keep it out of Russia's sphere of influence. This could go at the expense of the accession criteria and civil society could miss an opportunity to push through reforms that are badly needed when it comes to rule of law, freedom of the press and a real market economy." Lousewies van der Laan moderated a session on "Liberal answers to global and regional challenges" at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, a liberal think tank in Serbia. Serbia will have early elections March 16th. Outgoing minister of the Economy Saša Radulovi? called Serbia a "failed state" run by a "parasitical political class" in the same session. Accession negotiations with the EU were opened this January, following progress in the normalization of relations with Kosovo.