EU official reacts to "recognition" statement

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule has denied the EU is asking Serbia to recognize Kosovo in order to join the organization, said reports late on Tuesday.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

The assertion was heard earlier in the day from European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schultz, who spoke after his meeting with visiting Serbian PM Ivica Dačić.

Fule also met with Dačić later in the day, to tell journalists afterwards that EU's condition for Serbia, when it comes to Kosovo, was "normalization of relations, not recognition".

"Heads of state of the EU in December adopted clear conclusions about visible and sustainable development of relations with Kosovo, in other words, about normalization, not about the need for a recognition," said he.

The EU official also stressed that the bloc "had no plans beyond that", and that the conditions set in December were reiterated today during the meetings with Dačić.

Dačić also reacted to Schultz's statement, to emphasize that "recognizing Kosovo is not a condition for joining the EU", and that he "did not hear any such thing from anyone in Brussels - including from Schultz".

"I need to clarify the statement, I think it was misinterpreted," the Serbian premier said of the EP president's statement, and added:

"What he said does not mean - and I did not hear this from anyone here, Schultz included - that a condition for Serbia's membership, or for getting a date for the start of membership talks, was Serbia's recognition of Kosovo's independence."

Dačić went on to say that the statement "came from the position of the state Schultz comes from - Germany, which recognized Kosovo".

"I think he will feel bad that he was seen by the public as the person who was setting additional conditions," the PM asserted, and reiterated that his government was "ready to take part in the continued Belgrade-Priština dialogue":

"Serbia will not be entering any talks in order to trick anyone, but we will say clearly what we can, and cannot do... We are ready for a continuation of the dialogue, as you have heard from Stefan Fule and Catherine Ashton."

He announced that President Tomislav Nikolić would meet with EU foreign policy chief Ashton soon, and that "it must be known what exactly is wished to be accomplished" in the talks between Belgrade and Priština.

Dačić added that the EU was ready to support the initiative to hold the dialogue at a high level, and that in the coming weeks, its format and topics would be determined.

"Those talks represent a kind of relaxation of relations between Belgrade and Priština and finding of a sustainable solution, which would not bring into question our principled position on Kosovo, and would not put brakes on our European road," said the Serbian prime minister.

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