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Serbia Recommended for EU Membership

Serbia's President Boris Tadic (L) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (R) hold a joint news conference after a meeting in Brussels February 28, 2012.

European Union foreign ministers say Serbia should be given a chance to join the EU.

Ministers made the recommendation after meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, citing Serbia's progress in its relationship with the former breakaway province of Kosovo. A final decision is expected to come at a summit of EU leaders later this week.

Before the meeting, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praised Serbia, but warned more work needs to be done.

"It is important that Serbia remains committed to an ambitiously firm agenda and to its dialogue with Pristina. Only concrete steps and results will allow our relationship to develop further. Serbia holds the key to deepen our ties and to its own progress," said Barroso.

Despite general agreement on Serbia's candidacy, some countries have voiced concerns, including Romania, which wants better protections for the rights of a small group of ethnic Romanians in Serbia.

Serbian President Boris Tadic defended his country Tuesday, saying it had done everything asked of it.

"Serbia is accepting all criteria that are in accordance with Copenhagen criteria, but Serbia is not going to accept something that is not in accordance with that criteria. And that is a firm position of the Serbian government, my own position and we are going to continue our efforts in terms of reaching candidate status. Thank you very much," said Tadic.

Serbia had hoped to become an official EU candidate this past December, but its efforts were blocked by Germany, which cited ongoing tensions between Belgrade and Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia refuses to recognize it as a separate country.

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