Sigmar Gabriel tells Serbia it must accept Kosovo's independence to join EU

Pristina on the eve of Kosovo’s tenth anniversary of independence

Serbia's leaders vow never to accept Kosovo's independence while talking in vague terms about the need to compromise to secure European Union membership.

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters in Pristina on Wednesday that Serbian "acceptance of Kosovo's independence" was a condition.

"That is a central condition to take the path toward Europe", Gabriel added. The Ministry as the further honour to inform that the Cabinet of Barbados has granted approval for the official recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and for the establishment of relations between the two countries.

The 148 kilometre (92-mile) railway line, which Pristina aims to finish by 2021, will cost around 200 million euros in total and will link Kosovo with Macedonia to the south and Serbia to the north.

Serbia had hoped its stance would not impede its road towards European Union membership.

So Kosovo remains the only country in Europe without visa liberalization, meaning that it is nearly impossible for its people to travel. Gabriel said he relayed the same message while meeting officials in Belgrade earlier on Wednesday.

Serbia aims to join the European Union by 2025, a date set by Brussels as it looks to bring Western Balkan nations into its fold. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro are all candidates for European Union membership.

Twenty-three of the EU's 28 members, including Ireland, are among 115 countries that recognise Kosovo's independence, but Mr Gabriel said he hoped that Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus would drop their objections to its status.

"Whatever the format is, we will help and support", he said.



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