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Europe

Zapatero says he backs Serbia's bid to join EU

Latest update : 2009-03-09

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (pictured) told a joint news conference with Serbian President Boris Tadic that Madrid supports Belgrade's bid to join the EU and does not recognise the independence of Kosovo.

AFP - Spain's prime minister told Serbia's visiting president Monday that Madrid has no plans to recognise the independence of Kosovo and backs Belgrade's bid to join the European Union.
   
"Spain's position regarding the unilateral declaration of independence of the territory of Kosovo is the known position of non recognition," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a joint news conference with President Boris Tadic.
   
"We have maintained this position and we will maintain it in the future," he said following talks with Tadic.
   
Ethnic Albanian-majority Kosovo seceded from Serbia on February 17, 2008. It has so far been recognised by over 50 countries, including the United States as well as most of the 27 nations that make up the European Union.
   
But Spain along with Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Slovakia have opposed recognising Kosovo, either in solidarity with Serbia or so as not to create a precedent for their own separatist areas.
   
For his part Tadic reiterated that Serbia would "never" recognise the independence of Kosovo.
   
"Serbia will not renounce defending the integrity of its territory... by legal and diplomatic means and it will never recognise the independence of Kosovo," said Tadic, who was elected president in July 2008.
   
Zapatero also said Spain, which will hold the rotating six-month presidency of the EU during the first half of 2010, will back Serbia's bid to be a candidate for membership in the bloc.
   
"We support Serbia's European aspirations and we are available to help President Tadic in his efforts to... present a candidacy for EU membership," he said.
   
Serbia plans to formally present its candidacy to join the EU later this year.
   
"European integration is a priority for us and without the support of Spain this would be practically an impossible mission," said Tadic.
   
Madrid and Belgrade also signed a military cooperation agreement on Monday on the first day of Tadic's two-day visit to Spain.
   
Tadic will hold meetings with Spanish business groups and Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon during his visit, which will also include a state dinner in his honour offered on Monday night by King Juan Carlos.
 

Date created : 2009-03-09

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