Serbian government rejected Kosovo deal – but only for the time being

by 1389 on April 10, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), European Union, Kosovo, Serbia

The EU and its member nations are doomed. The Serbian people would have nothing to gain, and much to lose, by joining the EU. It would make far more sense for them to look to the BRICS instead. Serbia rejects Kosovo deal

By Andrew Gardner – 08.04.2013 / 20:32 CET

Serbian decision scuppers hopes of EU talks for both countries in the near future.

The Serbian government today rejected a deal with Kosovo that the European Union had sought to broker – and in the process it has all but guaranteed that the EU will not begin the next stage of integration talks with either country in the coming months.

Despite its rejection of the terms on the table, the Serbian government said that it wanted an “urgent resumption” of talks with Kosovo, whose unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 is rejected by the Belgrade. Serbia lost control of Kosovo in 1999, when the international community intervened to end fighting between the Kosovars and an army loyal to the government in Belgrade.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, brought the two countries together in March 2011 in an effort to resolve questions about the level of autonomy to be granted to the largely Serb-populated north of Kosovo. She has held eight rounds of talks in the past six months, and progress in the later phases had raised hopes that a deal could be struck that would convince EU member states to start accession talks with Serbia and negotiations with Kosovo on a stabilisation and association agreement, the first phase of the pre-accession process.

However, those hopes plummeted at the last talks, last Tuesday (2 April), which had been hoped would be the final talks.

That round of negotiations saw angry exchanges between Hashim Thaçi, Kosovo’s prime minister, and a newcomer in the debate, Aleksandar Vučić, Serbia’s deputy prime minister and leader of the country’s largest party.

Today, Vučić said that the deal offered too little autonomy to ethnic Serbs.

The Serbian prime minister, Ivica Dačić, who was seen as more open to a deal than Vučić, said that the deal did “not guarantee full security and protection of human rights to the Serb people in Kosovo”. He continued: “Such an agreement could not be implemented and would not lead to a lasting and sustainable solution.”

In recent days, the Serbian Orthodox Church and President Tomislav Nikolić had both criticised the potential deal.

Vučić said that Belgrade was unable to accept two of the eight points discussed during the last round of talks, on policing and the judiciary in Serb-dominated areas.

Despite his government’s decision to reject an agreement, Dačić said that Serbia “[pledged] an urgent resumption of dialogue with Pristina with EU mediation”.

Vučić echoed the call for continued EU involvement, saying: “If there is a negative answer from [the EU], that would be bad news for Serbia, Kosovo and the EU.”

In her comments, Ashton did not indicate whether the EU would continue to broker further talks, but called on both sides “to make a last effort to reach an agreement”.

Her comment appeared to leave the door open to a last-minute change of heart by Serbia before 16 April, when the European Commission will present a report on Serbia’s and Kosovo’s progress toward meeting the EU’s conditions for the start of the next stage of talks.

A Commission recommendation to launch formal negotiations on the next phases of Serbia’s and Kosovo’s integration with the EU could have been forwarded to EU leaders for consideration at their summit in June. It would then have been possible for the German government to seek endorsement of its position by the German parliament before elections on 22 September.

Efforts to bring Serbia and Kosovo closer to the EU will therefore now have to wait until the start of the next German electoral cycle. A Commission official said that Serbia’s rejection of a deal would make it more difficult to pick up negotiations and develop a new momentum.

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