EU executive backs membership talks with Serbia

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EU executive backs membership talks with Serbia

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The European Commission on Monday recommended opening membership negotiations with Serbia following Friday’s historic deal with Kosovo.

Belgrade and Pristina agreed a tentative accord last week aimed at normalising relations.

Štefan Füle, the EU enlargement commissioner, said: “Serbia and Kosovo have proved that they can both focus on the future rather than staying entagled in the past.”

The deal looks to end the ethnic partition of Kosovo between its Albanian majority and its Serb minority.

Belgrade says it will not recognise Kosovo’s independence but will cede control of the country’s north to Pristina.

For Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a former UN envoy in the Balkans, the agreement marks a turning point in the region.

“The implementation of the commitment will not be easy, but there’s no way back. While we’ll be struggling with the details of implementation for quite some time to come, the rubicon has been passed,” Bildt told reporters in Luxembourg.

MPs in Serbia and Kosovo have backed the deal. It paves the way for Belgrade to open talks on joining the EU and European leaders will decide in June if Serbia is ready to start negotiations.

Euronews’ Andrei Beketov said Belgrade and Pristina should fail to win over hardline nationalists and “translate words of congratulations into action then the door to the Union could be slammed shut to them.”