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Dacic pledges pro-EU course for Serbia

Serbia’s prime minister has expressed his government’s determination to join the European Union. There had been concerns about Serbia’s future course after pro-EU President Boris Tadic was voted out of office.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic also told EU President Herman Van Rompuy that Serbia would continue to take steps to reduce tensions between it and its former province, Kosovo.

"We are ready and keen to continue the dialogue regarding Kosovo," Dacic said. "We are ready to continue with the dialogue not only when it comes to technical issues, but also political issues."

The Serbian prime minister's visit to Brussels came just two days after Belgrade effectively ended its boycott of international conferences, which also include representatives of Kosovo.

Although Serbia had agreed in EU-sponsored talks back in March to attend international meetings where Pristina has its own seat at the table, it has failed to do so over a dispute about how Kosovo is identified at such talks.

As part of the agreement, a footnote is to be included at meetings that reads: "This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice's opinion" on Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008.

On Sunday, Serbia, which does not recognize its former province as a separate country, dropped a demand that this footnote appear on Kosovo's name plate at the table.

Van Rompuy praised Serbia for the decision but noted that "the work does not end there."

"A visible and sustainable improvement of relations with Kosovo remains a key requirement for the next step, the start of EU accession negotiations," he said.

The 27-member bloc granted Serbia the status of EU candidate state back in March. This happened while strongly pro-EU former President Boris Tadic was still in office. While current President Tomislav Nikolic has also espoused a pro-EU stance in recent years, he is not seen as being as solidly pro-EU as Tadic.

pfd/mz (AFP, dpa)