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Serbia Takes Small Step Toward EU Membership

BRUSSELS -- Serbia inched closer to European Union membership on February 27, completing talks with the EU on one of 35 areas it must address before joining the 28-nation bloc.

At talks in Brussels, the "negotiation chapter" on education and culture was opened and immediately closed because EU officials say Serbia is in compliance with all demands in that area.

Serbia has now begun negotiations on eight of the 35 areas it must address and closed two of them.

Maltese Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech said that talks on several other issues can be opened during his country’s six-month term as EU president, which ends on June 30, and said that Serbia has made strides in the areas of customs, company law, and intellectual property.

Serbia's progress toward EU membership is largely determined by the success of the EU-sponsored dialogue with Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Since they resumed in January after almost an almost yearlong hiatus, the talks have produced a resolution to reopen a bridge that connects a mostly Serb-populated part of northern Kosovo with the rest of the country.

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