EU to launch accession talks with Serbia in January

The foreign ministers of EU member-states decided on Tuesday in Brussels that the accession talks with Serbia will start in January.

Source: Tanjug
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However, they they did not set the exact date, Slovenia's Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec has told reporters.

The ministers did not agree on the exact date, he told reporters coming out from a meeting of the council of ministers in Brussels, and he added that the date would be set by Greece, which will take over the EU Presidency on January 1.

The original proposal was for the first intergovernmental conference between Serbia and the EU, which will mark the formal start of the talks, to be held on January 21, and Tanjug's sources from the EU say that is still the most likely date.

There is logic for January 21 to be that date, because the council of ministers' next meeting will be on that day, an EU official who is well informed about the debate stated.

Greece will be able to call the intergovernmental conference on its own, without a new meeting of the Council of the EU, he explained.

Stefan Fule also said on his Twitter account that January 21 should be the date of the first conference.

The ministers also included in the framework for the talks a clause that had been disputed, which says that Belgrade and Priština have to sign a legally binding agreement by the end of the accession talks with Serbia, Erjavec noted.

Several countries led by Spain opposed this clause until now, but they accepted it in the end at Germany's insistence.

The framework for the talks also states that the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština should lead to a comprehensive normalization of relations between the two sides.

Germany had insisted on the term "full normalization," but it accepted in the end a somewhat milder wording proposed by Lithuania.

Fule: Greece plans January 21 for Serbia

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said on Tuesday Greece planned to schedule the first intergovernmental conference between the EU and Serbia for January 21, during that country's presidency of the EU.

Greek officials have informed us that they plan to schedule the intergovernmental conference with Serbia for January 21, he told Tanjug, adding that Greece will take of the EU presidency on January 1.

He did not answer directly to the question of whether the mention of a legally binding document in the framework for the talks meant the EU expected Serbia to recognize Kosovo at the end of the negotiations.

Conclusions should not be rushed, he stated.

"This is above all about evaluating the progress in the normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Priština. The whole framework for the talks should be read, as it clearly states that the EU expects further steps towards the normalization," the EU official told a news conference after a ministerial meeting

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