The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday that Serbia must resolve its dispute with Kosovo as part of its application for membership in the European Union.

Following a meeting with Serbian President Alexander Vucic, Juncker said Serbia is on the right road, but the EU cannot accept a country with unresolved territorial disputes. “Serbia has already passed an impressive part of its way” to the EU, but there are “are number of problems that have not yet been solved,” Juncker said. He gave examples such as the need for judicial reform and better respect for the rule of law.

Juncker is visiting Serbia as part of his tour in Western Balkan countries, which have expressed their willingness to join the EU at a time when Russia seeks to strengthen its influence in the region, especially in Serbia. His visit comes in a period after the EU has drawn up a new enlargement strategy, which includes the possibility for Serbia and Montenegro to join the EU in 2025, notes Associated Press.

In turn, Serbian Prime Minister Vucic said he calls for a compromise with Kosovo whose declaration of independence in 2008 is not recognized by Belgrade. “We need a compromise, otherwise we will continue to live in the past”, Vucic said.

According to Juncker’s words, the EU wants a legally binding agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, but the content of the document depends on these two countries. The Union will help in the negotiation process on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The President of EC has already visited Macedonia and Albania. After Serbia, he will visit Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia. His tour will end with participation in an EU Summit with regional leaders in Sofia on 1 March.

Serbia submitted an application for EU membership on 19 December 2009 and on 1 March 2012 the European Council granted it the status of a candidate country. Accession negotiations started in January 2014. Last month, the number of signatories for approval of Serbia’s entry into the EU for the first time in four years exceeded 50%, shows a new public survey conducted by the Ministry of EU integration in Serbia.

At the end of 2017, Serbian President Alexander Vucic expressed his willingness to move towards Europe.

“Serbia is on the way to Europe, but unlike other countries in the region, it does not want to enter NATO”, Vucic said.