BELGRADE, Serbia, July 5 (UPI) -- Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to let travelers cross their border with Kosovo papers, but Belgrade said the deal was not a recognition of independence.
Under the European Union-brokered pact reached Saturday, Serbian border guards will recognize Kosovo ID cards and license plates, but not passports, the EUObserver reported. Kosovo residents will now be able to travel abroad directly through Serbia, avoiding longer routes through Montenegro and Croatia.
School and university diplomas also will be recognized on both sides.
The deal should ease Serbia's drive to join the EU, already boosted by the arrest of accused war criminal Ratko Mladic. The European Commission is expected to back EU candidate status in September.
Kosovo negotiator Edita Tahiri said: "It is becoming clearer that Serbia's EU integration is conditioned by recognition of Kosovo, and Serbia's first step toward recognition of Kosovo's independence was made today."
But Serbian representative Borislav Stefanovic denied that, saying, "A passport is the highest symbol of citizenship, while the identity card is not."
In Belgrade, he told the newspaper Blic negotiating with the Kosovo Albanians was "sometimes like talking to people from another planet."
Serbian opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica condemned the pact as a betrayal.