European Commission opens pathway to membership for Serbia

April 22, 2013 at 2:17 PM
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BRUSSELS, April 22 (UPI) -- The European Commission Monday urged European Union members to start membership talks with Serbia after Belgrade reached a deal to normalize ties with Kosovo.

Serbia and Kosovo reached the agreement Friday during talks brokered by the EU, the European Commission said in a release Monday

A report issued jointly by the commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy found that Serbia has visibly taken steps toward improving relations with Kosovo. The commission also said Kosovo should be allowed to participate in EU programs following the negotiations.

"The recommendations to open negotiations for EU membership with Serbia and to open negotiations for an [Stabilization and Association Agreement] with Kosovo mark a decisive break with the past and a common step towards a European future. I would like to pay tribute to the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo for their courage and vision. I am honored to have been able to contribute to this process," said Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy/vice president of the commission.

"Serbia and Kosovo have proved they can both focus on the future rather than staying entangled in the past. Our recommendations today are therefore clear: Both Serbia and Kosovo deserve to move on decisively in their EU perspectives. This is good news for the people in Serbia and Kosovo, and in the whole region," added EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule.

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