"Serbia must sign legally binding statement with Kosovo"

Germany expects that before the start of its EU accession talks Serbia will sign "a joint, legally-binding statement" with Priština.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

It would then be implemented before the end of the accession talks, Andreas Schockenhoff of the ruling German CDU party stated in Belgrade on Thursday.

The content of this joint statement should be put together "by the partners themselves", he stated, and mentioned an agreement on good neighborly relations "as an example".

Addressing reporters after his meetings with Serbian officials, Schockenhoff said his party would insist on this in the German parliament.

He also listed "seven conditions" that will be insisted on in order to allow Serbia to join the EU, stressing that those conditions "were nothing new", and that his hosts in Belgrade today "were not surprised".

The list includes a demand for Serbia to "actively influence a dismantling of parallel structures and security apparatus in northern Kosovo".

The north has a majority Serb population that rejects the ethnic Albanian unilateral declaration of independence, made in early 2008.

Schockenhoff in Thursday in Belgrade also added that that Serbia should stop funding the north, and asserted that the money set aside for this was, "according to what Germany learned", higher than the funds Serbia receives from the EU.

According to him, "it is important to say what Berlin expects from Serbia" before the Council of Europe decides on the start of EU membership talks - which will be debated after the European Commission (EC) makes its recommendation in October.

However, this German politician conceded that he was speaking on behalf of his party, rather than the German government - but added that the party was Germany's largest, and that the government will act based on a decision of the German parliament - which will make its stand after the EC makes its recommendation.

Schockenhoff was heading a CDU delegation in Belgrade today, which met with First Deputy IM Aleksandar Vučić and Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić.

Vučić was quoted as saying during the meeting that Serbia was ready to continue the dialogue with Priština and fulfill the obligations taken on by the previous government, while it is "in the country's interest" to cooperate more strongly with Germany.

Mrkić for his part stressed that the preconditions set before Serbia in order to open the membership talks with the EU "should be objective, clear, and should not be expanded".

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