German, Czech ministers urge closer EU ties with Serbia

Other News Materials 22 February 2008 20:44 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa)  -  The foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and Germany called Friday for closer relations between the EU and Serbia, following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

"It's clear that the secession of Kosovo is a bitter blow to Serbia," Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said after talks with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Berlin.

That is why it is important for Serbia to draw closer to the EU, he said a day after anti-Kosovo protests in Serbia which saw angry demonstrators attack foreign embassies in Belgrade.

Steinmeier said Germany wanted to see "Serbia embark on the path to Europe" and was ready to "extend the European hand" to Belgrade despite the difficult situation in the past few days.

Steinmeier condemned the attacks on the embassies and said it was something "that the host nation should have averted."

He also criticized as "inappropriate" remarks by Serb Premier Vojislav Kostunica, who praised "the youth of Serbia" for demonstrating their commitment to "law, justice and freedom."

Serb nationalists set fire to the US embassy and ransacked the Croatian, Turkish, Bosnian and German diplomatic missions in protest at predominantly ethnic-Albanian province of Kosovo breaking away from Serbia.