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EU Envoy Says Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue Key For Bloc Entry

EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak

The European Union’s special envoy has warned Serbia and Kosovo that they must resume talks on normalizing ties if they want to make progress toward membership in the bloc.

Miroslav Lajcak arrived in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, on March 3 after previously visiting Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, at the start of his tour in the region.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade does not recognize this. The EU has brokered negotiations to normalize ties but after a White House summit and talks in Brussels in September, the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo has stalled.

After a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Lajcak said that EU member states expect the two sides to move on.

“Dialogue is key for both sides to advance on their European path," Lajcak told a news conference. “We have no interest to preserve a status quo and we are ready to bring the process to a successful end as fast as the two sides are ready to go.”

Lajcak added that the EU is working closely with the United States with a common goal for Serbia and Kosovo in sight, which is membership in the EU.

Most EU nations and the U.S. have recognized Kosovo's independence, but not by Serbia's allies Russia and China.

Serbia was forced to cede control over Kosovo in 1999 after a U.S.-led NATO campaign ended Belgrade's crackdown against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian separatists. More than 10,000 people died in the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

Vucic said after his meeting with Lajcak that Serbia is ready to return to the talks and insists on reaching a compromise solution.

“We believe that a compromise agreement means no one gets everything and everyone gets enough,” Vucic said.

With reporting by AP