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Serbia 'not ready for EU candidate talks': Merkel

02 December 2011, 13:53 CET
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(BERLIN) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that Serbia has not yet met the conditions to become a candidate for European Union membership, amid unrest on its tense border with north Kosovo.

Speaking in Germany's parliament, Merkel said to applause: "A path into the EU can only happen after relations with Kosovo are normalised."

"The EU and Germany have laid down concrete expectations. I regret hugely Serbia has not until now sufficiently lived up to these expectations, such that the preconditions for awarding candidate status are not yet met," she added.

Fresh violence at border crossings in recent days has left scores injured, including NATO peacekeepers, while threatening to scuttle fledgling Serbia-Kosovo talks as well as Serbia's dreams of EU membership.

Merkel described the violence in which 50 soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were wounded, as "unacceptable."

Regarded as a shoo-in for EU candidacy after the arrest of longtime wanted war criminals Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic earlier this year, the border flare-up has dimmed Belgrade's chances.

While Germany is hesitant, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers Thursday that Paris favoured granting Serbia candidate status.

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