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E.U. pledges closer ties to Serbia, Western Balkans

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Brussels (dpa) - European Union leaders on Friday pledged closer ties with Serbia and the Western Balkans in reply to the assassination of Serb Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Leaders meeting in Brussels offered ''full support of the European Union (E.U.) in implementing the required reforms, allowing further progress towards European structures, and notably the E.U.''

An E.U. declaration said the 15-nation bloc strongly supported the new Serbian government's determination to continue the fight against organised crime and corruption, comprehensive democratisation and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Ex-Yugoslavia.

''The future of the Western Balkans is within the E.U. Strong political will and sustained efforts are required to secure it,'' said leaders.

Proof of E.U. engagement in the region was shown by the E.U. takeover of police operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the military operation in Macedonia, the leaders noted.

The declaration did not offer any new financial or other aid to the region.

An E.U. summit this June in Thessalonkiki, Greece would be aimed at further strengthening ties between the bloc and the Western Balkans, leaders said.

dpa lm si ms

Copyright (c) 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/21/2003 05:12:11

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