German Chancellor Angela Merkel says recent confrontations between NATO soldiers and Serbs on the border with Kosovo show that Serbia is not yet prepared to be a candidate for European Union membership.
Merkel told the German parliament that Serbia must normalize its relations with Kosovo if it wants to be admitted into the EU.
"In the long term, we want not only Serbia but also Kosovo to join the EU and for the EU to continue functioning. And that is why the only way Serbia can join the EU is through a normalization in its relation to Kosovo," Merkel said. "The EU and the German government were too quick to express their expectations in concrete terms."
Thirty German and Austrian soldiers were injured on November 28, some by small-arms fire and Molotov cocktails, when hundreds of Serbs resisted an attempt by NATO peacekeepers to remove roadblocks erected by Serbs in the north of Kosovo.
Western diplomats have said the turmoil in Kosovo could cost Serbia official candidate status for membership in the EU when the bloc's leaders next meet on December 9.
compiled from Reuters reports