German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Serbia must begin normalizing relations with Kosovo if it wants to move closer to European Union membership.
Merkel, speaking after talks with President Boris Tadic in Belgrade on August 23, said Serbia must resume a dialogue with Kosovo and also influence minority Kosovo Serbs to dismantle structures of parallel authority in northern Kosovo.
Tadic said at a joint news conference that Serbia had reformed far enough to be formally recognized as a membership candidate by the EU and receive the date for the start of accession talks.
He said Belgrade is ready for a compromise with the Kosovo Albanian leadership, but without jeopardizing Serbia's "integrity and principles."
Serbia says it will never recognize the independence of predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo proclaimed in 2008.
An EU-launched dialogue stalled in July over Serbia's trade embargo on Kosovo goods.
compiled from agency reports