Wednesday

2nd Dec 2020

EU should reach out to Serbia, Italian PM says

  • Brussels should reach out to Serbia, says Mr Prodi (Photo: EUobserver)

Italian prime minister Romano Prodi has called on the European Union to reach out to Serbia both politically and economically without waiting for a solution on the future status of Kosovo.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa in Slovenia on Monday (10 September), Mr Prodi said that the EU cannot resolve the problem without Serbia having a role in Europe.

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"We [the EU] need to act quickly and have to show Serbia immediately that we give it great political and economic attention," Mr Prodi said, according to AFP.

"Serbia is now undergoing a very tough historical moment due to the Kosovo problem. We have to prove Serbia is not alone, we are dealing here with the whole European Union's nature and concept," he added.

Mr Prodi explained that he has sent a letter to the European Commission setting out his arguments. Although he gave no details, Reuters reports that Italian diplomats said that Italy is proposing that Serbia be given a fast track to EU membership.

The Italian comments come after EU foreign affairs ministers this weekend met in Portugal to discuss the future status of the Serbian province of Kosovo, which for the last eight years has been under UN supervision.

The member states have offered support for a UN plan that offers the breakaway Serbian province a strong degree of independence but not full autonomy.

But Belgrade, backed by Russia, strongly opposes an independent Kosovo.

At the moment, Russia and the West are mediating a new round of negotiations between Kosovar and Serbian leaders.

However, the chances for a compromise solution between the two sides are low and Pristina has said it might well make a separate independence declaration outside UN structures if no agreement is found.

EU member states are divided on how to react to such a move from Kosovo.

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EU member states meeting in Portugal over the weekend confirmed their deep divisions on what to do if Kosovo eventually makes a unilateral declaration of independence.

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