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Serbia Demands EU Commitment, Balkan Leaders Meet

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (right) greets Serbian President Boris Tadic at the Southeast European Cooperation Process summit in Istanbul.
Serbia's president today called on the European Union to openly tell his country "without making any excuses" whether it wants Serbia to join the 27-nation bloc or not.

Serb President Boris Tadic said at the opening of a Balkan summit in Istanbul that Belgrade does not want to be "used as a pretext to do absolutely nothing."

The criticism by Tadic comes despite assurances by the EU earlier this month that the door remains open to Balkan countries if they meet its criteria for joining.

The Balkan states are concerned EU members may not want to expand given the current financial crisis.

Four countries in the group -- Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Slovenia -- are already EU members, while Croatia and Turkey are in the process of accession talks.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul also urged the EU to refrain from steps that would delay the membership process.

The South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) was launched in 1996 for the purpose of building stability in the region.

The group's other members are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia.

compiled from agency reports