"Kosovo is EU's number one condition"

Aleksandar Vučić has said Serbia is "expected" to be given a date for the start of its EU membership talks in the spring, or in mid-2013.

Source: Tanjug

"If you ask me what the key condition for a date for the start of the talks will be - first will be what's most important to them, and that is the issue of Kosovo, and how we will solve it, especially in northern Kosovo," the first deputy PM of the Serbian government said, in reference to the Serb-majority part of Kosovo.

Speaking to reporters during a break in the Belgrade Security Forum conference, Vučić said more conditions concerned "cross-border terrorism and radical Islam", as well as the fight against corruption:

"They will not let us get near the EU without creating a system and mechanism to fiercely fight against corruption."

According to him, it is "not surprising" that Serbia will not get its date by the end of this year.

"It's about the previous government taking on obligations that it didn't even try to implement, and now that task is more difficult for us, we must do something that we didn't even discuss."

That job will not be easy, explained the minister, but asserted that "Serbia must finish it":

"We are dedicated and want to join the EU and that job will be finished."

When it comes to the conditions put before Serbia that are not related to Kosovo, Vučić told reporters that "anyone who voiced criticism when it comes to corruption, economy and other issues would be completely in right to do so":

"A big job is ahead of us that we must do, make real progress in deeds, not just words. I am convinced that in the next six months we will do that."

"Integrated border management to be implemented"

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić said on Friday that the government would implement and agreement on "integrated border management" reached previously in the EU-sponsored Kosovo dialogue, and that this will happen "regardless of what anyone thinks about it".

He explained that the reason for this determination was the fact that former head of Belgrade's negotiating team Borislav Stefanović had "put his initials on it".

At a news conference after his meeting with EU envoy and Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Lajčak, Dačić said that the government "had to implement all the agreements its predecessors had reached, regardless of whether someone likes them or not or whether some of the parties in the ruling coalition did not support them".

"This applies to the border management agreement initialed by Stefanović. The government must consider how to protect national and state interests under new conditions, as Serbia moves forward in the EU integration process," he said.

In parliament on Thursday, Aleksandar Vučić said that Stefanović had initialed all pages of the agreement, "which has come under heavy criticism in the Serbian public", Tanjug is reporting.

Stefanović said that his initials were not legally equal to a signature, and were there "only confirm the authenticity of the preceding text".

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