Germany, Britain hesitant over Serbia's EU bid

5th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany appeared hesitant Monday over Serbia's hopes of being accepted as an EU candidate nation this week, demanding more clarity over a weekend deal with Kosovo to end tension on disputed border crossings.

"We need to sort out what has been agreed between Kosovo and Serbia these last few days. There is not sufficient clarity yet, we hope we'll get that today," said Werner Hoyer, minister of state in the foreign ministry, as he went into talks with European affairs ministers.

"The conditions are clear," he added of the criteria set for membership of the bloc. "Every country that wants to join the European Union must clarify its relations with the neighbourhood."

"We need reassurances that Serbia will be ready and able to sort out its neighbourhood relations."

Belgrade refuses to recongize Pristina's three-year independence but last March the two sides entered into EU-brokered talks to resolve everyday problems caused by Kosovo's breakaway.

EU leaders are to decide at a summit Friday whether to grant Serbia candidate status, a key step on the road to full membership.

But Belgrade's hopes of success have been soured by new violence on its border with north Kosovo late last month that left scores injured, including some 50 NATO peacekeepers, many of them from Austria and Germany.

An EU diplomat said Britain too, along with the Netherlands and Austria, was demanding "more proof of Serbia normalising relations with Kosovo".

France and Spain on the other hand are in favour of Belgrade being given the go-ahead on Friday.

"For Spain it is clear: we support Serbia as a candidate to integrate the EU," said Diego Lopez Garrido, Spain's secretary of state for the EU.

EU diplomats said the split over Serbia had generated long talks in Brussels and that Monday's ministerial meeting was likely to focus on the issue at length.

© 2011 AFP

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