EU Commissioner: Serbia Needs progress on Kosovo Before Accession

Posted June 23rd, 2011 at 4:50 pm (UTC-5)
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European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele says Serbia must make more progress in normalizing relations with Kosovo, but that recognizing its independence is not a condition for Serbia's EU membership.

Fuele met with Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic Thursday in Brussles to discuss Belgrade's bid to start negotiations for Serbia's accession to the 27-nation bloc.

He told Jeremic that no EU nation is ready to adopt any new member who is having an unresolved issue with its neighbors.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February of 2008. Many countries, including most EU members and the United States have recognized Kosovo's independence. Serbian leaders have vowed they would never recognize it and point out that some current EU members, including Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Romania have not recognized it either.

But Belgrade has agreed to holding talks with Pristina on normalizing relations without raising the question of Kosovo's status.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Fuele expressed hope there would be “tangible results” on that score in the coming weeks.

The Serbian foreign minister told reporters that Serbia still needs to fulfill a series of criteria and conditions to get a positive assessment from the European Commission to start EU entry talks.

Serbia has recently fulfilled a key condition for the start of those talks when it delivered a top war crimes suspect to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Former Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic, who is wanted on charges of genocide, was captured last month after more than 16 years.

However, the European Commission report on Serbia's progress in 2010 urged the government to continue and speed up work on establishment of the rule of law, combat against crime and corruption and solving of property issues.