news 14 Jun 12

Nikolic, EU Officials Discuss Serbia's Future

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has assured EU leaders that he sees the future of Serbia in the EU.

Bojana Barlovac

On his first official visit to Brussels as President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic dicussed Serbia's EU future with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission President, and Herman van Rompuy, the EU Council President.

Van Rompuy said in a statement that they had agreed that relations with the EU are key for Serbia’s future.

"Key political reforms need to continue – on the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organised crime, freedom of the media and the protection of minorities.

"Structural reforms and improving the business environment are becoming equally urgent under the current economic circumstances," Van Rompuy added.

Nikolic said that he had convinced EU officials that he saw the future of Serbia lying within the EU.

Serbia became an EU candidate country on March 1 and was told that further progress will depend on "normalisation" of relations with Kosovo, the former province that declared independence in 2008, which Serbia has vowed never to recognise.

Ahead of the trip, Nikolic said that he would seek a clear answer from EU officials on whether Brussels expects Serbia to recognise Kosovo's independence before it can start accession talks.

EU-led talks between Kosovo and Serbia started in March 2011 and have so far yielded agreements on freedom of movement, mutual recognition of university diplomas and Kosovo's representation at regional meetings [which Serbia has contested on the grounds that it does not view Kosovo as an independent state].

Nikolic reiterated that Serbia will never recognise Kosovo's independence and that such unilateral actions jeopardise regional peace and security.

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