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Serbia Seeks EU Accession Progress as Talks With Kosovo Advance

Serbia adopted new policy guidelines for future talks with the breakaway province of Kosovo as part of the Balkan country’s efforts to get a date for the start of European Union membership talks.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic will continue talks with Kosovo representatives next week in Brussels and “any agreement should contribute to Serbia’s European integration,” he told reporters in Belgrade today.

Serbia, formally a candidate for EU membership since March last year, may get a date for the start of entry talks by June if it shows enough progress in mending ties with Kosovo, the European Commission said on Dec. 12.

The guidelines, adopted unanimously by Dacic’s Cabinet and President Tomislav Nikolic and submitted to Parliament, won’t focus on the status of the former province, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008.

Serbia has vowed never to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Leaders want to talk about the rights of Serbs who live in Kosovo, especially in its north, the home to the largest Serbian community, by offering solutions how they should live safely and have their own institutions, including a right to personal documents without Kosovo citizenship.

“It won’t be easy,” Dacic said. The initiative “reflects our desire to get a date for the start of accession talks as quickly as possible.” The European Commission will probably disclose its initial opinion in February or March, he said.

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