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Serbia Wants No Change to EU Entry Conditions, Grubjesic Says

Serbia said it will call on the European Union to keep membership conditions the same as for other aspirants and not change the rules because of its strained relationship with Kosovo.

EU foreign ministers will decide in Brussels today whether to ask member states to set a date for Serbia to begin entry talks on Dec. 12. Serbia’s government doesn’t expect a date before next spring, the office of Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European integrations Suzana Grubjesic said in an e-mailed statement today. Grubjesic will attend the meeting.

We will “repeat Serbia’s clear stand that for the sake of the future of its citizens Serbia wants to be part of the family of European nations, but that our country must have the same treatment other countries had in the accession process,” Grubjesic said in the statement.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, a former aide to the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, vowed in October to seek a compromise with Kosovo and get the start of talks for Serbia to become the third former Yugoslav republic to join the EU. Dacic’s Cabinet, dominated by the Socialists, former nationalists and technocrats, took office in July.

Making an agreement with the breakaway province is vital for Serbia to advance toward EU entry, which it needs to help tie its economy deeper to the rest of Europe after the civil wars of the 1990s stunted the region’s transformation from communism.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by the United States and 22 of the EU’s 27 members. Serbia sees Kosovo as the cultural cradle of their nation and has vowed never to accept its independence.

“Serbia is aware that chances are slim to get the date for the start of the talks before spring next year, but we expect the EU to acknowledge the efforts and progress Serbia has made in the process of normalizing ties” with Kosovo, she said in the statement.

Grubjesic travels to Brussels on a day when Serbia and Kosovo, its former breakaway province, launch joint border management and step up customs control of trade under the guidance of the EU’s police and justice mission in Kosovo.

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