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EU mulls civilian law and order mission for Ukraine

The European Union is considering the dispatch of a civilian expert mission to Ukraine to assist with judicial and policing matters, EU diplomats said on Thursday. The idea was put to ambassadors from the 28-nation bloc jointly by Britain, Poland and Sweden on Wednesday and will be discussed by foreign ministers at talks in Luxembourg on Monday, said a diplomat who asked not to be identified. The three nations behind the mission are hoping for a quick green light from the EU and for a launch by June.

Three detained in Kosovo over Italian visa sales

The son of former Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova and two other people have been detained for a month on suspicion of illegally trading in Italian visas, the EU said Friday. Uke Rugova and the other two are suspected of "alleged unlawful procurement of Schengen visas from the Italian embassy in Kosovo," the EU rule of law mission (EULEX) said in a statement, referring to Europe's 26-country free-travel zone.

Serbia sets off on long march to EU entry

Serbia officially set off on a long march to be the European Union's 29th member, starting long and possibly fraught talks Tuesday to bring its laws into line with European standards. "This is an historic day for Serbia," probably "the most important since World War II", said Prime Minister Ivica Dacic. "What pride to see the Serbian flag flying in Brussels!" added deputy premier Aleksandar Vucic as a large delegation of Serbian VIPs joined EU ministers and officials for the formal launch of membership talks.

EU court jails 10 Kosovo Albanians for terrorism

An EU-led court in Kosovo has sentenced 10 ethnic Albanians to up to nine years in prison for terrorism aimed at provoking a conflict in southern Serbia, officials said Thursday. The 10 were found guilty of "terrorism and organisation/participation in a terrorist group... that executed an armed attack on (a) Serbian checkpoint", the EU rule of law mission (EULEX) said in a statement. The incident occurred in June 2012, when attackers fired at a Serbian police border post, slightly injuring one officer.

Kosovo nationalists protest Serbia deal ratification

Protesters from a radical nationalist movement attempted to block the entrance to Kosovo's parliament on Thursday to prevent deputies ratifying an agreement that would normalise ties with Serbia. The Self-Determination movement, a nationalist party that seeks to unify Kosovo with neighbouring Albania, is attempting to block the historic agreement struck on April 19 between Kosovo and Serbia. Some 300 protestors carried banners that read "The deal will not pass" and "A state cannot be built with thieves," and argued with security forces deployed around the parliament.

Kosovo welcomes EU support for talks as 'milestone'

Kosovo on Wednesday welcomed news that the European Union was prepared to open its doors to the Balkan territory, along with Serbia, as a "milestone". "Yesterday's recommendation... marks an important milestone for Kosovo and the region," Kosovo's foreign minister Enver Hoxhaj told journalists during a visit to Ljubljana. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said Tuesday that the bloc would formally adopt on Friday a mandate to start talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo, a first step towards membership.

Kosovo welcomes EU support for talks as 'milestone'

Kosovo greeted news that the European Union was prepared to open its door to the small Balkan country, along with Serbia, as a "milestone" on Wednesday. "Yesterday's recommendation... marks an important milestone for Kosovo and the region," Kosovo's foreign minister Enver Hoxhaj told journalists during a visit to Ljubljana. On Tuesday, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said the bloc's leaders would formally adopt on Friday a mandate to start talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo, a first step towards membership.

Serbia wins EU support to begin membership talks

European Union ministers on Tuesday unanimously recommended that Serbia begin EU membership negotiations by the very latest in January 2014, as the former pariah state said it had done "everything to become a member of the European family". A formal decision to open EU-Serbia talks will be handed down on Friday by EU heads of state and government, the EU's Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said. He said the talks would begin in January "at the very latest" and perhaps "as early as October."

EU gives go-ahead for Serbia entry talks by January

By Justyna Pawlak and Adrian Croft LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Serbia could start negotiations on joining the European Union by January next year, EU ministers agreed on Tuesday, rewarding Belgrade for improving relations with its ex-province Kosovo. Ministers also agreed the EU should launch preparations with Kosovo on a so-called association agreement, a step on the path to eventual EU membership that can carry economic benefits.

Kosovo liaison to Serbia resigns over dispute with PM

Only two days after taking his post, Kosovo's liaison officer to Serbia Lulzim Peci resigned on Wednesday over a dispute with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, officials said. The resignation, sent in a letter to Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, came just a day before Thaci was to meet with his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic in Brussels to discuss further implementation of the EU-brokered Belgrade-Pristina accord on normalisation of relations between the two former foes.
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