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Serbia clears EU membership hurdle

Serbia clears EU membership hurdle
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The European Commission has rewarded Serbia for catching wanted war-crimes fugitives by recommending the country as a candidate to join the EU.

The Commission’s annual report on countries that want to join also praised Serbia for introducing democratic reforms. Kosovo though remains a sticking point.

The Commissioner for EU enlargement Stefan Füle told a news conference: ‘The Commission recommends granting Serbia candidate status on the understanding that Serbia re-engages in the dialogue with Kosovo and is moving swiftly to the implementation in good faith of agreements reached to date.’

Belgrade has refused to recognise Kosovo’s independence ever since it broke away from Serbia in 2008.

And relations deteriorated in recent weeks. Clashes left one policeman dead and injured dozens of NATO peacekeepers and Serb protesters.

One of the principal EU demands was the arrest of leaders wanted on war-crimes charges dating from the Balkans wars of the 1990s.

In May this year the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic was arrested and delivered to face trial in The Hague after 16 years on the run.