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 152.

    #147 Maroze

    -- I know Greece and Cyprus well (North and South) since the Junta.

    -- I just despise nationalism --especially when unjustified.

    -- and even more, when totally unjustified.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    You've mixed things up a lot.I repeat:Greeks deny to accept the independence of Kosovo inside Serbia's borders as Scots would deny the independence of Pakistan's Bradford inside England.This is POLITICS.Humanitarian aid though HAS NO RELIGIOUS,RACIAL or POLITICAL DISTINCTIONS.The Greek Church sent (still does) a massive humanitarian aid to both sides.This is HUMANITARIANISM

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    144 mod

    A country can't be turned around overnight.

    From being a continent in rubble the EU has become the largest and wealthiest economy, trade power and exporter in the world with the richest countries.

    Top air craft industries, steel dairy fashion beer cosmetics luxury goods mobiles energy paper banking car etc

    Trade within the Union is more than one-third of the world total

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Look read digest and learn.....

    It does not matter what we in UK think or would like to have.
    The matter is totally out of our hands and rests with the EEU.Gov.

    Whenever have they listened before?

    Settled then.... by EU.Gov.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    #147 Maroze

    "With Greece's admiring public, pro-Serbian church, tolerant media and governments that supported Milosevic,.. As Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansers torched villages, it was here Milosevic would escape to enjoy the hospitality of Greek politicians. Marko Milosevic, his lascivious smuggler son, declared Greece 'my first home'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Here we go again..It seems you suffer from a persistent anti-Greek bug, probably caused from too much propaganda served to you.I proved you in posts 93 &104 that Greece through charities,NGOs,the ORTHODOC CHURCH,the Army &the Gov with the support of EU,NATO &all its neighbours incl Albania offered a huge humanitarian aid to both Albanians &Serbians of Kosovo.Why so much hate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    137 Akkarin

    "and we have most of the top universities in the EU"

    Which doesn't seem to have added much to the general standard of education! Many of their courses are useless

    We don't just need good universities for the minority but excellent trade schools, apprenticeships, technical colleges etc

    You can't run a country of over 60m on service or financial industries

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    #141 Coladad

    "Serbian Orthodox Church's participation in actively promoting and blessing the mass murder of muslims."

    --Not only --same with Greek Orthodox Church

    "1994, the Greek Orthodox Church declared Radovan Karadžić as "one of the most prominent sons of our Lord Jesus Christ working for peace"--

    "the Serbian people have been chosen by God to protect the western frontiers of Orthodoxy

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    142 Wrong we went to the IMF in 1976 long after we had joined the EEC in 1973 get your facts right. Callaghan and Healey actually undertook cuts much better and faster than Osbourne is now to get the debts down. The EU saved us from nothing it was the EEC back then nothing more than a trade block which it should go back to being.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    @141 ColadadelCid
    One hour ago muslins abducted the Greek Orthodox Church’s Archbishop of Aleppo Boulos Yazigi & Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Yuhanna Ibrahim in Syria’s Aleppo.Based on your logic,does it pose the question whether the Syrian muslin community promotes &blesses the mass murder of Syrian Christians and spreads hate? Too generalised and lacking evidence, don't you think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    130 rock

    " trade will not stop nor will the UK be disadvantaged, the EU lovers cannot accept its failure"

    You obviously don't remember what this country was like before it joined the EU. Crippling debts forced us to go cap in hand to the IMF. The sick man of Europe

    We begged to join what has now become the most world's most successful trading bloc

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Far too premature. There is the outstanding question of the Serbian Orthodox Church's participation in actively promoting and blessing the whole sale mass murder of muslims. They need to be brought to justice as well before further concessions are given to Serbia viz a viz the European Union. That Church acted as propagandist of hate and incited murder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    It is totally incorrect to say serbs will have their own police chief. It will be appointed by pristina so it is pristinas police chief for serbs. The court in mitrovica is just a branch of the pristina legal system. There is no autonomy for serbs in any way in police or legal system. Pristina controls everything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    The Eu would take the living dead if they thought it would brainwash a few more to their idiotic cause...

    How long before this lot fall out or start hollering for a bailout.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    It's FYROM! Not Macedonia!!!.. Macedonia is a province in Northern Greece. FYROM must revert back to its original name 'Vardar Banovina' as it was before the 1950s and its language 'Bulgarian' only then will there be peace and stability in the region. FYROM must realise that they can NOT get away but stealing other country's name, culture and history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    @123 Sally
    Compared to most other EU countries we are well off, we give more then we take, and we have most of the top universities in the EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Of course they can join. What would be a good reason not to?

    Just because they have some internal wrangles between Serbia and Kosovo will just be like that witnessed Ireland Wales Scotland and England.

    Russia and China will also change their tune when asked to join the club then everyone will be happy. Should something go wrong UK has enough standing room for the whole of Earth's population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    " after King Peter II and other members of the government fled the country, the remaining representatives of the government and military met with the German officials in Belgrade. They quickly agreed to end military resistance.

    On 27 June 1941, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia appointed Tito Commander in Chief of all project national liberation military forces."

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    #132 rocky

    "Churchill refused ..."

    ´1967: De Gaulle says 'non' to Britain - again
    The French President, Charles de Gaulle, has for a second time said he will veto Britain's application to join the Common Market.
    He warned France's five partners in the European Economic Community (EEC) that if they tried to impose British membership on France it would result in the break-up of the community.

  • Comment number 133.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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