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EU Ministers Give Green Light To Montenegrin Accession Talks

LUXEMBOURG -- European Union foreign ministers have agreed that Montenegro has carried out reforms and is ready to start EU accession negotiations.

The step is expected to be formally endorsed at an EU leaders summit on June 29.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, however, warned that concerns about organized crime and corruption in the Balkans, in particular the narcotics trade, could complicate the accession process, which is already expected to last for years.

"We have had significant cases of Balkan [criminal] networks in Sweden in the past," Bildt said. "And as I indicated, we have roughly about 40 percent of the drugs coming into Europe coming through the Balkan networks."

The former Yugoslav republic, which declared independence in 2006, is also an official candidate for NATO membership.

With reporting by AFP and dpa