Serbia begins process of applying for European Union membership

Jan. 21, 2014 at 5:35 PM

BRUSSELS, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A Serbian delegation led by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic arrived in Brussels on Tuesday to begin negotiations on membership in the European Union.

The process is expected to take several years, the Belgrade radio station B92 reported.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met with Dacic and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic before the first conference between the two delegations. After the meeting, Barroso said the conference opens "an entirely new chapter" in the relationship between Serbia and the EU.

"I commend Serbia for its reform efforts and for the progress made over the past years," Barroso said. "The citizens of Serbia have strong European aspirations, and we will continue to support Serbia to make progress, step by step, on its European path."

Serbia faces a number of contentious issues including its relationship with Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 after nine years of United Nations control.

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