“Serbia must recognize Kosovo’s independence as a condition of joining the European Union, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said.

‘If Serbia wants to move toward the European Union, the building of the rule of law is a primary condition, but naturally also the acceptance of Kosovo’s independence,’ Gabriel said at a joint news conference with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj in Pristina late on February 14.

‘That is a central condition to take the path toward Europe.’

Gabriel said he had given the same message to Serbian officials in Belgrade earlier on February 14.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence 10 years ago. The country has been making preparations to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its declaration on February 17.

Belgrade, however, has never recognized Kosovo’s move despite its recognition by 115 other countries, including 23 of 28 EU members.

Germany was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence, along with the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.

Gabriel said his country would help to secure Kosovo’s recognition by the five EU member states that have not yet done so – Spain, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, and Slovakia.

‘Such a recognition makes sense because Kosovo will never again be a part of Serbia,’ he said. ‘Membership of the European Union is a win-win situation for all.'” (RFE/RL)