BELGRADE, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Stefan Fule, European Commissioner for Enlargement, said on Monday that Belgrade's European Union aspirations will be linked to progress on its relations with Kosovo.
"I know you are all interested in whether Serbia will get a date for the start of (EU) negotiations in June," said Fule to local media after his meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, "The answer to that question depends on the efforts to meet reforms and whether visible and sustainable progress is made in relations with Kosovo."
Fule refused to speculate about a possible date for the beginning of Serbia's negotiations for EU accession. He stated that a European Commission report on Serbia's progress will be published on April 16, which is expected to list the reforms Serbia has achieved and areas in need of further effort, such as judiciary reform and anti-corruption strategy.
He noted Serbia and the EU shared the common goal of EU membership for Serbia, and that upcoming report would not be the end of the process. "We will work after April 16."
Nonetheless, the EU Commissioner stressed the importance for Serbia to find a workable solution with Kosovo.
"We hope in the coming weeks there are increased efforts in negotiations with Pristina," said Fule.
Nikolic said he remained optimistic that Serbia would soon begin negotiations to become an EU member," Serbia has done a lot and is open to do more".
Serbia steadfastly refuses to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and insists Kosovo is part of its territory. Most leading European countries and the United States have exchanged diplomats with Pristina.