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Kosovo, EU To Sign Stabilization Pact

The European Union will sign a long-awaited stabilization agreement with Kosovo on October 27, establishing closer ties and opening the way to membership for the small Balkan country.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after years of tensions following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said top officials will sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement in Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

"Once implemented, it will bring more economic prosperity, legal certainty, government accountability, and political stability to the people of Kosovo," Kocijancic said.

A stabilization agreement is a first step for non-EU countries on the long road toward membership of the bloc, which currently includes 28 nations.

It requires the EU candidate to ensure that its governance and civil society mechanisms -- for example, on human rights and the judiciary -- are brought up to EU standards.

Diplomatic sources told AFP that some member states had reservations about Kosovo's rights record, but they felt it was better to have them on board so as to help stabilize the volatile Balkans region.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters