Serbian Government Backs Accord With Kosovo Before Key EU Report

Serbia’s government formally backed an April 19 agreement with Kosovo, paving the way for better ties with the breakaway province that could win Serbia a date for starting European Union membership talks.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic’s Cabinet “accepted the first agreement on the principles that regulate the normalization of ties achieved in the dialogue on Kosovo” in Brussels, the government’s press office said in an e-mailed statement today.

The Cabinet also “instructed ministries” to take steps to install the accord and continue “with the implementation of previous agreements,” it said.

Serbia and Kosovo have been at loggerheads since the wars of the 1990s that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia. Kosovo is recognized by the U.S. and 22 of the EU’s 27 members. The bloc will present a report at noon in Brussels today on Serbia’s readiness to begin accession talks.

While Serbia seeks a start date for entry talks, Kosovo is in line to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first formal step toward membership in the bloc. Both nations need deeper EU ties after the wars stunted the region’s transition from communism.

Serbia backed the deal a day after Kosovar Premier Hashim Thaci presented the accord to 120-seat parliament, where 89 lawmakers backed and five opposed the agreement.

The European Union-mediated accord gives Serbia and Kosovo June 15 deadline to work out power sharing in telecommunications and energy and make progress in clarifying fate of people missing on both sides since the 1998-99 war.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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