Angela Merkel urges Serbia

Monitoring Desk

BERLIN: Serbia’s future in the EU depends on democratic reforms and overcoming the Kosovo issue, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Berlin, Merkel urged for democratic reforms and steps to resolve the question of Kosovo’s status. “Serbia’s EU membership negotiations can only move forward and be successful if further reform steps are taken in the fields of rule of law, protection of fundamental rights and above all in questions in connection with Kosovo,” she said.

Kosovo — a former Serbian province — declared independence in 2008 and is recognized by over 100 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany and Turkey. Belgrade opposed Kosovo’s independence but launched an “internal dialogue” with Piristina to resolve disagreeme-nts. Merkel reaffirmed on Tuesday Germany’s support for Serbia’s EU membership perspective, and also expressed hope that the Kosovo issue would be resolved with legal, “contractual arrangements” in the coming years. Serbia began EU membership negotiations in 2014 and is seeking to join the bloc by 2025.