Timeline: Serbia's troubled path to EU accession talks

Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:52am EDT

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(Reuters) - The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, recommended on Monday that the bloc begin membership negotiations with Serbia, a milestone in the country's transformation from pariah state under late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

If approved by the 27-nation EU in June, the process is expected to drive reform and could unlock Serbia's investment potential as the largest country to emerge from former Yugoslavia.

Here is a timeline of events in Serbia since Milosevic was overthrown on October 5, 2000 after a decade of war and sanctions:

October 9, 2000 - The European Union lifts a series of sanctions against Serbia following Milosevic's overthrow.

June 28, 2001 - Serbia's government under Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic extradites Milosevic to stand trial for war crimes at the United Nations tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

February 4, 2003 - The Yugoslav parliament approves creation of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro, consigning Yugoslavia to the history books.

March 12 - Djindjic is shot dead by a sniper working with a group of underworld crime bosses and former elite paramilitaries.

March 3, 2004 - Nationalist Vojislav Kostunica becomes prime minister, taking a hard line against cooperation with the U.N. tribunal in The Hague and on Kosovo, Serbia's breakaway southern province.

March 17 - Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo loot and burn Serb homes in the worst violence since the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

June 27 - Pro-Western Boris Tadic is elected president on a promise to take Serbia into the EU.

July 10, 2005 - Tadic visits Bosnian town of Srebrenica on 10th anniversary of massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces.

March 11, 2006 - Milosevic dies in his cell in The Hague.

May 3 - The EU breaks off talks on closer ties with Serbia and Montenegro over Serbia's failure to arrest and extradite Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic, wanted on charges of genocide at the U.N. tribunal.

May 21 - Montenegro votes narrowly in a referendum to end an 88-year union with Serbia.

February 17, 2008 - Kosovo declares independence after the collapse of two years of negotiations with Serbia. It is swiftly recognised by the major Western powers. Serbs in Belgrade riot, setting fire to the United States embassy.

April 29 - Serbia and the EU sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, a pre-membership pact to strengthen ties.

July 21 - Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic is arrested in Belgrade and flown to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes, including genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

December 19, 2009 - Serbia applies for membership of the EU.

March, 2010 - Serbian parliament adopts resolution apologising for the Srebrenica massacre.

May 26, 2011 - Mladic is arrested in Serbia and extradited to The Hague.

July 20 - Serbia arrests Croatian Serb war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic, the last remaining Serb fugitive wanted by the U.N. tribunal.

March 1, 2012 - The EU makes Serbia an official candidate for membership, conditions talks on improved ties with Kosovo.

May 30 - Nationalist Tomislav Nikolic is elected president and in July his Serbian Progressive Party becomes the largest party in a coalition government.

January 13, 2013 - Serbia's parliament adopts resolution calling for Serb autonomy within the legal framework of Kosovo - implicit recognition of the authority of Pristina over the entire territory of Kosovo. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic says Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo "is practically non-existent".

April 19 - Serbia and Kosovo agree a plan to tackle the ethnic partition of Serbia's former province, with Serbia effectively ceding its last foothold in the territory.

(Writing by Matt Robinson; editing by David Stamp)

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