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Serbia Urges EU to Stop Setting New Entry Requirements

Serbia's foreign minister has asked the European Union to stop setting new conditions for the Balkan country's entry into the European bloc.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, speaking Thursday in Belgrade, urged EU leaders to begin implementing a pre-entry program quickly, and said his country should be granted formal EU candidate status before next year.

In an annual progress report delivered Wednesday EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said official Serbian candidate status could likely be granted quickly. But he said Belgrade must first meet several criteria, including the arrest of two remaining wartime fugitive suspects from the Balkan wars.

In response Thursday, Jeremic said "enough is enough."

Jeremic said some EU member countries have gone so far as to suggest Belgrade should also be forced to recognize Kosovo independence as a condition for starting the lengthy EU entry process.

Serbia strongly opposes Kosovo's independence from greater Serbia, which leaders of the area's ethnic majority declared in February. Analysts say the differences between the union and the Belgrade government over Kosovo's status could become a sticking point in a push for improved ties.

Analysts say a favorable United Nations report in December on the hunt for fugitive war crimes suspects would most likely clear the way for the EU accession process to begin.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.