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Germany says Serbia must strike deal with Kosovo

16 April 2013, 19:02 CET
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(BERLIN) - Germany warned Serbia Tuesday that its bid to join the European Union will remain on ice until it settles its dispute with Kosovo, after talks with Pristina's visiting foreign minister.

"The normalisation of relations (between Serbia and Kosovo) is among the criteria for Serbia's goal of closer European integration," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters after meeting his Kosovo counterpart Enver Hoxhaj.

"An agreement on starting negotiations on Serbia joining the EU, which it would like to see this summer, will be significantly delayed if it does not reach a deal with Kosovo."

Westerwelle said he was convinced that "the remaining differences can be surmounted with courage and decisiveness".

"When one country delivers results and another doesn't, the one that is taking steps... that is doing its homework must not be held responsible for the lack of good will by the other," he said.

Hoxhaj said Pristina had been "shocked" that Serbia this month rejected a Brussels-brokered proposal on easing tensions with Kosovo, which he said had pressed on with reforms demanded by the EU.

"We hope that the decisions will be taken in Brussels in the coming days which will open up the possibility of an association accord with the EU," he said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It has since won recognition from more than 90 countries, including the United States and most EU member states.

Serbia and the some 40,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo continue to reject Pristina's declaration of independence.

A deal with Kosovo is the key Brussels-set condition for Serbia if it wants to start talks for EU membership later this year. A refusal could delay Serbia's integration into the EU indefinitely.


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