Romania threatens Serb hopes for EU status

February 28, 2012 16:25

BRUSSELS - Romania threatened on Tuesday to derail European Union plans to grant Serbia membership candidate status in a row over minority rights in the former Yugoslav state, EU diplomats said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Monday EU governments were ready to agree to make Serbia an official EU candidate, in recognition of its democratic reforms, its capture of war crime fugitives and improved relations with neighboring Kosovo.

But at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, the Romanian delegation unexpectedly refused to sign the agreement, demanding guarantees that the rights of a small group of ethnic Romanians in Serbia be better protected.

Bucharest said it wanted to hold a debate on the issue at a summit of EU heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday, which had initially been expected to formally approve Serbia's new status, diplomats said.

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