BRUSSELS - Serbia and its former province of Kosovo struck an historic accord on Friday to settle relations, potentially setting Belgrade on the path to membership of the European Union in a major milestone in the region's recovery from the collapse of Yugoslavia.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the prime ministers of both sides had initialed an agreement during talks in Brussels, at the culmination of six months of delicate negotiations and more than a decade of deep animosity since Kosovo broke away in war.
"The negotiations have concluded. The text has been initialed by both prime ministers," Ashton told reporters.
The pact is expected to tackle the ethnic partition of Kosovo since its 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, and open the door to greater international integration of the young state, which Serbia does not recognize.
Belgrade hopes it will be enough to win the green light on Monday from the EU's 27 members for the start of talks on Serbia's membership of the bloc, a process that could unlock the country's potential as the largest market in the former Yugoslavia.