BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Union must continue to provide significant financial assistance for Kosovo in the coming years, provided political leaders in the southern Serb province and Belgrade resolve their disputes peacefully, the EU head office said Wednesday.
In a report to the 25 EU governments, the European Commission said the union must maintain economic assistance and other programs that have cost euro1.6 billion (US$2.08 billion) since 1999.
It said assistance must be maintained "to enhance its economic development and facilitate its constructive participation" in the Balkans' progress toward European integration.
The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo wants the province to be independent, while Belgrade insists it have autonomy but remain within Serbia-Montenegro.
Kosovo has been an international protectorate administered by the United Nations and a NATO-led peacekeeping force since 1999, when a NATO air war against the former Yugoslavia ended a Serb crackdown on ethnic-Albanian separatists.