PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Austria's chancellor told Kosovo on Tuesday that any step toward joining the European Union must be based on dialogue with Serbia.

Sebastian Kurz, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said during his visit to Pristina that without a peaceful agreement between Pristina and Belgrade there would be no peaceful coexistence and regional stability.

"A peaceful agreement between Pristina and Belgrade is the basis ... for EU membership and a guarantee to achieve security, stability, peace, economic growth and wellbeing," Kurz said at a news conference with his host, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.

Kurz arrived from Belgrade, where he also warned that membership in the bloc depends on resolution of the Kosovo issue.

Kosovo and Serbia have been negotiating for more than seven years to join the EU.

Officials in Serbia and Kosovo have recently suggested that a land swap — Serbia's Presevo Valley for Kosovo's northern Mitrovica — could help the negotiations.

"Whatever agreement is achieved, even if it is border changes or border correction, that would be supported by the EU," said Kurz.

He also urged the country to continue dialogue with international partners on efforts to transform its security forces into a regular army.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize the move and tensions persist.


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.


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