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VIENNA, June 14 (Reuters) - Austria has put Serbia on the agenda of European Union foreign ministers at the EU summit starting on Thursday, seeking to keep the former Yugoslav state from drifting into isolation.
Serbia has endured a series of setbacks this year with more coming down the road, fuelling a growing feeling of abandonment in Belgrade which Austria fears could foster radical movements.
The EU froze talks for closer ties with the Balkan state in May when Serbia failed to deliver war criminal Ratko Mladic. Montenegro seceded from its union with Serbia in the same month. Its breakaway province, Kosovo, is knocking on the door.
"We knew this year would be difficult (for Serbia)," said Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik at a news conference in Vienna ahead of the Brussels summit.
"Decisions about a nation's status are among the most delicate issues the international community has to discuss and resolve, and there are several such issues still outstanding in the region," she added in an allusion to Kosovo.
Plassnik said she put Serbia on the agenda for the foreign ministers' dinner -- a standard feature on the sidelines of EU summits -- and Austrian diplomats said it was mainly meant as a signal to Serbians that the world still cares about them.
"They are feeling cornered at the moment," said one diplomat. "We can't allow that they think they are just bulldozed over and turn to the wrong, nationalist people," the diplomat said.
Talks about a closer association with the EU -- a prelude to actual candidate status -- will remain on ice for Serbia as long as Mladic is at large. The main carrot for Serbia is the possibility of visa facilitations for Serbian citizens.
"Of course in theory it would be the best if we could just resume the (association talks) tomorrow," the diplomat said. "But we can't if Mladic doesn't turn up, we owe that to ourselves."
Austria will ask EU leaders at the summit to reiterate a declaration by EU foreign ministers in March saying that the future of the entire region of former Yugoslavia and Albania -- the "western Balkans" in EU lingo -- was in the EU.