Serbia's Tadic welcomes EU candidacy granted to his country
(BELGRADE) - Serbian President Boris Tadic welcomed on Thursday the EU's decision to grant the Balkan nation candidate status, saying the move paves the way for "economic advance and prosperity".
"Citizens of Serbia have suffered the heaviest burden of overall reforms in our country (necessary) for it to become a democratic society based on the rule of law, in which human and minority rights are respected and European values confirmed," Tadic said in a statement released by his office.
However he warned that a "lot of work is ahead of us in order to launch the negotiations on the EU membership which is the next step after obtaining the status."
"Despite all temptations and obstacles, our policy has passed an international test... We have to take care of our citizens and also to, defending our national interests, contribute to the policy of reconciliation and go further towards the EU," Tadic said.
Earlier, European leaders granted Serbia EU candidate status, a first but crucial step in an often long and rocky road to full membership.
It marks a historic leap for a country that only 13 years ago was the target of a NATO bombing campaign, launched after the late Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on independence-seeking Kosovo.
Relations with Kosovo, which unilateraly declared independence from Serbia in 2008, have been a major obstacle to Belgrade's EU bid, as it has not recognised the move.
But last week, Belgrade and Pristina reached an agreement which opened the way towards Thursday's decision.
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