LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – The European Commission encouraged EU governments on Monday to start membership talks with Serbia, in recognition of Belgrade’s accord with Kosovo last week that marked a milestone for the Balkans’ recovery from the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Talks could start within the year – if all European Union capitals agree at a meeting in June – provided Serbia puts in place all the conditions of the deal meant to address the status of the Serb-populated northern part of its former province.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is expected to lift all sanctions on Myanmar next week, except for an arms embargo, in recognition of the “remarkable process of reform” in the country, a document seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday.
The EU agreed a year ago to suspend most of its sanctions against Myanmar for a year, but it is now expected to go further by agreeing “to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms”, the document said.
BRUSSELS/BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary promised on Friday to make changes after the EU executive threatened action to overturn constitutional amendments it said may be incompatible with European Union law.
The EU, the United States and human rights organizations have accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government of using constitutional amendments to limit the powers of Hungary’s top court and undermine democracy in the former Soviet satellite.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Tajikistan is deeply concerned about instability after foreign troops withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon said on Thursday.
Afghanistan is to hold presidential elections in April 2014 as most foreign combat troops will be preparing to withdraw from the country by the end of that year, leaving Afghan security forces in charge.
LONDON (Reuters) – Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady”, was a towering figure in British 20th century politics, a grocer’s daughter with a steely resolve who was loved and loathed in equal measure as she crushed the unions and privatized vast swathes of industry.
She died on Monday, aged 87, after suffering a stroke. During her life in politics Some worshipped her as a modernizer who transformed the country, others bitterly accused her of entrenching the divide between the rich and the poor.
BRUSSELS/BELGRADE (Reuters) – Crunch talks to end the ethnic partition of Serbia’s former Kosovo province broke up without result on Wednesday, in a potential blow to Serbia’s hopes of starting European Union membership negotiations this year.
Serbia is under pressure from the West to relinquish its hold on a Serb-populated pocket of majority-Albanian Kosovo if it is to secure accession talks with the EU, in what would be a major boost for the biggest economy to emerge from the collapse of federal Yugoslavia.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Crunch talks aimed at ending the ethnic partition of Serbia’s former Kosovo province broke up without result on Wednesday, in a major setback for Serbia’s hopes of starting European Union membership negotiations this year.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been mediating months of talks between Serbia and Kosovo, said the gap between the two sides was “very narrow, but deep” after a marathon 12-hour session.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Bulgaria will provide more evidence Hezbollah planned an attack that killed five Israelis, in a move it said on Wednesday should convince European Union countries to put the Islamist group on its terrorist list.
Bulgaria accused the Lebanese militant movement on February 5 of carrying out a bomb attack on a bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas that killed the Israelis and their Bulgarian driver last July.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United States is urging the European Union to impose sanctions on North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, which Washington believes helps finance North Korea’s ballistic missile program, a U.S. State Department official said on Monday.
North Korea earlier this month threatened the United States with a pre-emptive nuclear strike as the United Nations Security Council tightened sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s third nuclear test.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union suspended most sanctions on Zimbabwe on Monday after voters there approved a new constitution paving the way for an election to decide whether President Robert Mugabe extends his 33-year rule.
The move is the most far-reaching step so far in the European Union’s strategy of easing sanctions to encourage political and economic reform in Zimbabwe.