Serbia closer to EU membership
European Union governments last night agreed that Serbia should become a candidate to join the 27-country bloc.
However, a final decision will not be taken until later in the week after Romania unexpectedly refused to sign an agreement to grant Serbia the status.
"I am pleased we were able to recommend candidate status for Serbia," Danish Europe Minister Nicolai Wammen said after a meeting in Brussels.
Romania refused to rubberstamp the agreement, demanding more guarantees about the protection of minorities.
But other EU governments insisted it was time to reward Belgrade for democratic reforms, the capture of war crimes fugitives and its efforts to mend ties with Kosovo.
It marks a historic re-entry into the international fold for Serbia barely 13 years after the end of the wars in the Balkans.
"My reading of the conclusions is clear," said Finland's Europe minister Alexander Stubb. "Serbia gets candidate status."
EU leaders will discuss the issue at a summit tomorrow.