BRUSSELS, June 15 (Reuters) - The EU said on Thursday it would work on incentives, including easier bloc entry for young Serbians, to encourage Serbia to opt for integration into Europe and reject nationalist isolation.
At a summit in Brussels, EU foreign ministers discussed ways of reaching out to Serbia, even though negotiations on closer ties were suspended last month after Belgrade failed to hand over fugitive war crimes indictee Ratko Mladic.
The European Union has said talks about a closer association with the bloc -- a prelude to actual candidate status -- would remain on ice as long as Mladic was at large. Mladic led Bosnian Serb forces in Balkan conflicts in the 1990s. "There is high awareness the visa question is one that is important in particular for the young generation," said Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
"We will be working on developing a number of positive measures at the same time, expecting very clearly Serbia to engage on a path of reforms and provide full cooperation with the (international war crimes tribunal)," she said.
Ministers at the summit expressed concern about the risk of an upsurge in nationalism should Serbia be left out in the cold.
"It is clear that one of the things we are discussing here is how we prevent Serbia falling into nationalism which will create disturbances in the Balkans," said Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller.
"We believe that we can only prevent that by telling the Serbs there are possibilities, but this also means that certain conditions are fulfilled."
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told Reuters an action plan would be worked out with Serbia to encourage it to comply.
"We need to support Serbia to join the European mainstream and there is a sense of urgency, a sense of seriousness ... especially about the need to help Serbia to help itself, by encouraging it to achieve full cooperation with the (tribunal)."
Rehn said he had proposed intensified cooperation between the EU presidency, foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the EU's executive Commission on support measures, including visa facilitation and economic and trade relations.
He said it was a political signal of the bloc's support for Serbia's future with the EU, although there had been "no dramatic change" in its cooperation with the tribunal.
Serbia has suffered a series of setbacks this year, fuelling a growing feeling of abandonment in Belgrade that has raised widespread fears of increased nationalism.
Apart from the freezing of talks on closer EU ties, Montenegro has seceded from its union with Serbia and the province of Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, is poised to follow suit.