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    EU Hopes to Adopt Association Agreement With Kosovo by Year-End

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    The deal would commit Kosovo to a closer partnership and trade ties with the European Union and potentially pave the way for permanent EU membership.

    BELGRADE (Sputnik) – The European Union hopes to complete the adoption of the Stablilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo by the end of 2015, neighborhood policy commissioner Johannes Hahn said.

    The deal would commit Kosovo to a closer partnership and trade ties with the European Union. The association can potentially pave the way for permanent EU membership.

    In a statement issued on Wednesday after the meeting with Kosovo's Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, Hahn said he hoped to put forward proposals for the association deal in April.

    "I look forward to our Member States' agreement to sign and conclude the Stabilisation and Association Agreement," Hahn said.

    The commissioner also stressed the "critical importance" of Kosovo's progress in European integration, for the region and for the European Union.

    Kosovo, Serbia's former breakaway region, declared its independence in February 2008. In contrast to the majority of EU members, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain did not recognize Kosovo's independence.

    Serbia also does not recognize the region's independence, but started to normalize relations with Pristina under the 2013 Brussels agreement.

    In May 2014, Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj outlined Pristina's long-term priorities, including joining the EU as a member state within a decade, as well as joining the UN and NATO before 2020.

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    EU membership, Stablilization and Association Agreement, Isa Mustafa, Johannes Hahn, Serbia, Kosovo
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