Serbian President Boris Tadic will travel to Stockholm on Tuesday to submit a formal application for European Union membership, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Saturday.
"Clearly this is an historic and important step for Serbia," Bildt, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, wrote in a website blog.
"President Tadic is welcome to Stockholm on Tuesday to submit an official application."
Earlier on Saturday, Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic signed Serbia's official request for EU membership at a Belgrade news conference, a decade after the end of the Balkan wars that saw a Serb genocide.
EU officials say Belgrade still has to overcome many difficult obstacles in the years to come before becoming a full member.
Serbia's path to EU membership has been stalled due to its failure to arrest former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who is sought for genocide by the U.N. war crimes court.
"Serbia has the intention and unambiguous will to arrest the fugitives for the sake of its citizens and for the sake of reconciliation in the Balkans," said Tadic.
"This is indeed a great day for Serbia. This day repesents a crossroads ... Today we are entering a stage which is very difficult, which demands deep and painful reforms."
Serbia has still to adopt many laws to get in line with European regulations, officials say.
Serbia had hoped the arrest last year of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic would clear its path to EU membership. Failure to capture another suspect, Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, remained a concern.
The ratification of the EU's pre-membership Stabilisation and Association Agreement remains also on hold because the Netherlands wants to see Mladic first extradited to the Hague tribunal.
Mladic has been indicted by the U.N. tribunal in The Hague for genocide over the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo.
Last Mod: 20 Aralık 2009, 12:45