EU Commission: 'Start Serbia membership talks'

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci - 19 April EU top diplomat Catherine Ashton helped broker the deal between Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (R) and Serbian leader Ivica Dacic

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The European Commission has recommended opening EU membership talks with Serbia, following Friday's landmark deal to normalise Serbia-Kosovo ties.

Serbia's government has approved the EU-brokered deal with its former province of Kosovo. Both Serbia and Kosovo want to join the EU.

There has been sporadic violence in Kosovo since the 1999 conflict.

Many countries recognise Kosovo as independent, but Serbia is among those, including Russia and China, who do not.

Five of the 27 EU countries do not recognise Kosovo: Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus.

Serbia insists that Friday's deal, granting a high degree of autonomy to Serb-majority areas in northern Kosovo, does not mean that it has recognised Kosovo's independence.

The Commission, which steers EU membership negotiations, said it "recommends that negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened with Serbia". EU foreign ministers will consider the issue on Monday.

In a report the Commission said Serbia had "actively and constructively" engaged in dialogue with Kosovo and had improved its co-operation with Eulex, the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo.

In a separate report the Commission also recommended opening talks with Kosovo on reaching a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU - a key step towards full EU accession negotiations.

The European Commission also proposed allowing Kosovo to participate in 22 EU programmes. The proposal requires approval from EU governments to go ahead.

Serb police chief

Kosovo's parliament in the capital Pristina, whose MPs are ethnically Albanian, accepted the 15-point deal with Serbia in a vote on Sunday.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but many of the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo have refused to recognise the authority of its mainly ethnic Albanian government.

In medieval times Kosovo was the centre of the Serbian Empire, and Serbs regard it as the birthplace of their nation.

Under the new deal, Serbs in northern Kosovo will have their own Serb police commander and appeal court. That court will sit permanently in northern Mitrovica. The town is ethnically divided, with a Serb majority in northern Mitrovica and ethnic Albanians in the south.

The text, reported on the European Voice website, says the police in Serb-majority municipalities will be ethnic Serbs, but the force will remain part of the "one police force in Kosovo called the Kosovo Police".

Both sides also agreed not to block each other's efforts to seek EU membership.

Countries in queue to join EU
Local autonomy

Earlier on Monday the Serbian government accepted the "first accord on principles which regulate normalisation of relations, reached during the dialogue on Kosovo in Brussels," said an official statement, quoted by the AFP news agency.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic had said that "if the government accepts the agreement, I expect Serbia to get a date to start membership talks with the European Union".

The deal says there will be legal recognition of a Serb-majority Association/Community in the north. It will have autonomy in key policy areas: economic development, education, health, urban and rural planning.

The deal was signed in Brussels on Friday by Mr Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, after long negotiations chaired by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

In 2008 and 2011 Serbia captured Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, respectively - the two most wanted Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects. By handing them over to The Hague the Serb government removed a major obstacle to its EU accession. Before Friday's deal Kosovo had been the other major stumbling block.

Mr Thaci told the Kosovan parliament on Sunday that "Serbia has recognised the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo".

Two ethnic Albanian opposition parties - the Democratic League of Kosovo, and Self-Determination - opposed the deal, calling it "treason" and "the foundation for a new Serbian republic" in the Balkans.

There was also a protest against the deal by Serbian nationalists in Belgrade on Sunday.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The study was unearthed by a journo working for De Telegraaf,(the Dutch times), back in the nineties The study concluded the disaffected immigrants coming to the EU(smaller then) would unite and rise against the original EU nationals. (cant name this DA group here for obvious reasons) I know every EU nat, ive ever spoken to have a deep resentment of the influx of "outsiders,"now inside

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    #80 Maroze

    "1994, the Greek Orthodox Church declared Radovan Karadžić as "one of the most prominent sons of our Lord Jesus Christ working for peace" and decorated him with the nine-hundred-year-old Knights' Order of the First Rank of Saint Dionysius of Xanthe.Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew announced that "the Serbian people have been chosen by God to protect the western frontiers of Orthodoxy

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Then you obviously didn't study history. Whether or not you agree with an observable fact is irrelevant.

    You evidently did, otherwise you wouldn't have started trying to argue a case for the differences between the US and EU when that was besides the point.

    If you say so.

    Hysterical nonsense. I bet you'd look to something like Atlas Shrugged for your vision of how the world should be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I see Ms Ashton has leaned a valuable lesson to seat the people she is negotiating with. It lessens the chances of them walking off leaving her looking lonely as happened in recent nuclear negotiations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The Eu has become a shambolic behemoth of red-tape and empire-building lack-lustre pen-pushers in Brussells.

    Little states want membership because they know they will become recipients of funds directed at them by people in Brussells who have to invent work for themselves. Other peoples money.

    The Eu should be scrapped. We need a Confederate States of Europe - mutual aid/defence/trade No cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    #80 maroze

    " they sent the largest humanitarian aid for both sides in Kosovo.PEACE"

    --source please !

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    The Serbs must be poorly led if any one in their right mind would want to join the EUSSR

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I disagree with all of your points there, sorry.
    I didn't misunderstand anything.
    You didn't articulate yourself well enough, perhaps?

    @84 The EU (Germany) is carrying out, now, financial war against weaker states vis-à-vis Cyprus. I sincerely hope you've read 1984. Because, that Orwellian, "sovereignty-less", world you would have us to march to is a dark world indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    In the past war decided most things. Is the EU doing it that way? No. An applicant must be a democratic country, and a government will only apply if it's people vote it into power.

    We're lucky to have the right to secede - the US is 'indivisible' regardless of the people's will.

    Sovereignty is meaningless. Scots vote on issues that affect me; yet Swedes shouldn't? What's the difference?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    A european federation? Along the lines of the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, Prussian Empire or even Nazi Europe. It's been done many times, what makes you think it will be different this time?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    EU spent bilions on tne bombing cmapaign against Serbia destroying it's industrial potentials in 1999 thus sending Serbia in the middle ages . Now it is time to help Serbia to return to the European society!

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    No, I'm not. It's not my fault if you misunderstood the original point of the example.

    How have I ignored the past? I clearly said it is the past from which I consider the possibilities of Europe's future.

    As I said - every superpower has risen from economic or political crisis. Europe is in a similar position now to France before her revolution, the US during the GD or Germany before WW2.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    @59 anti-Greek quietoaktree
    Greece doesn't recognise Kosovo inside Serbia on the same basis Scots wouldn't recognise the independence of a Pakistan state inside England.Unfortunately the US propaganda (Kosovo,FYROM) doesn't work on Greek people as they know well Balkans history.Greeks disagreed with ANY bombing or war.Instead they sent the largest humanitarian aid for both sides in Kosovo.PEACE

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Where can I find that Dutch study?

    "The world grows, and as it does small nations must come together for mutual benefit."
    I think you mean, small nations are usually coerced into union. The USSR being a recent example.
    Do you feel comity and sovereignty are obsolete?
    Do you believe in a world government?

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    That's why I said histories streching back milennia! Sounds like you would've done well during the days of the empires, bringing civillisation to the savages and all that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    How about the UK? Or England itself? Or France, Spain, Germany, Italy etc? Almost all European countries are themselves unions of nations that were once independent.
    The world grows, and as it does small nations must come together for mutual benefit. The world has grown especially large since decolonization, and we are small once more. A European federation is nothing new, just the next phase.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    #71 Atomic_ Mash

    "The only ones interested in joining the EU fiasco are those that want handouts."

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    "You're taking the US example literally."
    You're backpedalling now. I've never seen a society tax its way to prosperity, and I don't think that economic law is about to change now.

    As for your egotistical claim of the future and eating my own words. If you ignore the past, ukstudent, you'll be condemned to repeat it: 72.Aotearoa is ominously right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    @13. modharry
    "have a large amount of powers restored to nations states"
    Has it occoured to you that that might be a bad thing?
    The point of laws being pan-EU is to ensure high standards from all, rather than letting less developed nations undermine the UK.
    Bringing such laws/powers back to national governments is a race to the bottom

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    @UK Student, the thing is the US wasn't a bunch of countries with histories streching back millenia, I don't think you can compare them really.


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