Hague hails Serbia and Kosovo deal
Published 19/04/2013 | 21:11
Foreign Secretary William Hague has welcomed a European Union-brokered deal between Serbia and Kosovo.
Mr Hague said the agreement "lays a solid basis" for further improvement in the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo, which broke away five years ago.
He praised the courage shown by Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovan counterpart Hashim Thaci in the delicate negotiations which led to the deal.
During the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia responded to separatist pressure from Kosovo by launching a brutal crackdown on the territory's Albanian population, but was forced out following a Nato bombing campaign in 1999.
Both nations now harbour ambitions of joining the European Union and the deal aimed at normalising relations between the neighbouring Balkan states could help pave the way to membership.
Mr Hague said: "I welcome the agreement that Serbia and Kosovo have reached today in Brussels.
"I congratulate prime minister Dacic, prime minister Thaci and others involved for showing the courage necessary to reach this agreement, which lays a solid basis for further improvement in the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo and is a valuable contribution to the stability and security of the Western Balkans.
"I urge both Serbia and Kosovo to implement this agreement rapidly, to remain constructively engaged in dialogue, and to take the further actions needed to continue their progress towards future membership of the European Union, and a stable and prosperous future for their citizens."
He congratulated EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton for her part in the negotiations.