Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Romania can be mediator in Kosovo dispute, says minister

Eubusiness.com
26 February 2008, 18:54 CET

(ZAGREB) - Romania's foreign minister said Tuesday that his country could help mend ties between Serbia and the European Union and NATO which have been strained by Kosovo's declaration of independence.

"Romania is a member of both the European Union and NATO and could transmit messages addressed by Serbia to the two organisations as well as the member countries," Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu told AFP in Zagreb.

"At the same time, we can present to the Serbian party concerns and expectations of our Euro-Atlantic partners regarding Serbia," Cioroianu said during a tour of the region.

Belgrade's relations have deteriorated with the United States and leading members of the European Union over their support for Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on February 17.

So far, big EU players such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy have recognised Kosovo but Romania has refused to do so.

"We are not the only friend of Serbia within the EU, and Belgrade has no reason to feel abandoned," Cioroianu said.

EU "member countries share a common view regarding Serbia's European future," the minister said, expressing hope that "Belgrade will soon receive clear signals for a credible European perspective."

Earlier this year, the European Union offered Serbia a deal on political dialogue, free trade, visa relaxation and educational cooperation.

However, the process of the country's approach to the EU was frozen after attacks on some of its members' embassies in Belgrade during a demonstration on Thursday last week.

Serbia is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) Partnership for Peace programme, seen as the first step towards membership in the military alliance.

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