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Serbia Faces ‘Serious Stumbling Block’ Toward EU, Hoyer Says

Serbia faces a “serious stumbling block” to becoming a candidate for European Union membership after German and Austrian soldiers were wounded last week in an incident at Serbia’s border with Kosovo, German Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer said.

“We had last week again a very unpleasant surprise with the Kosovo-Serbian border,” Hoyer told reporters in Brussels today before a meeting to prepare for the Dec. 8-9 EU summit. He called it “extremely serious and the Serbian government must know when it doesn’t prevent things it can prevent, then it is a serious stumbling block.”

Serbian President Boris Tadic said he was “hopeful” that the EU’s decision this week on Serbia’s candidacy will be positive and even if it isn’t, “Serbia must move on” as “that is not a definitive defeat, just one lost battle,” Blic news portal quoted Tadic as saying today.

Serbs who live in Kosovo’s north began removing road blocks this morning, according to B92, clearing roads that lead to Serbia, sooner than expected after leaders of four Serbian municipalities in Kosovo vowed to remove the barricades only after parliament verifies an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on integrated border management.

The accord reached under the EU auspices on the weekend, and crucial for Serbia’s bid to become an EU candidate, sees a “balanced presence” of Serbian and Kosovo police and customs officers on the border, while Eulex, the EU’s law-and-order mission, will hold executive powers at the crossings.

Serbia hopes to be declared a candidate for EU membership at the EU summit by Dec. 9. Its neighbor, Montenegro, is likely to go further with its EU bid by being ruled eligible to start entry talks, Hoyer said.

“There is probably going to be more or less consensus on Montenegro where we intend to actively begin negotiations,” Hoyer said.

To contact the reporters on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net; Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James G. Neuger at jneuger@bloomberg.net

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