The European Union has officially launched a feasibility study on Kosovo's conditions to sign a key agreement for closer ties with the 27-nation bloc.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele met with top leaders in Pristina Tuesday. He told reporters after the talks that the EU will assess Kosovo's readiness to sign the stabilization and association agreement.
That agreement is the first step in a long and arduous process of reforms and development a country needs to implement before joining the EU.
A VOA correspondent in Pristina quotes Fuele as saying that Kosovo must focus on issues of special importance in the study, such as trade, public, administration reform, electoral reform, rule of law and minority integration.
Kosovo's President Atifete Jahjaga said Kosovo and its people are a part of the European civilization and that all of its political and ethnic groups support a path toward membership in the EU and NATO.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci pledged to fulfill all the criteria necessary for inclusion in the EU entry process. He said "if the first decade of this century can be considered as a period of establishing the state of Kosovo, this decade is the decade of Europeanization and integration of Kosovo into Euro-Atlantic structures."
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia four years ago, and five EU members have yet to recognize it as a sovereign state.