Serbia quashes hopes it might let Kosovo join UN

Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 00:00

Serbia has quashed suggestions that it might let Kosovo join the United Nations and Kosovo has rejected talk of autonomy for its Serb population, in comments that poured cold water on hopes of a swift improvement in relations between the Balkan neighbours.

Sovereignty

At the weekend, Serb prime minister Ivica Dacic urged his compatriots to abandon “myths and fairy-tales” about Kosovo and accept that Belgrade’s sovereignty over its former province was now “almost non-existent”, five years after it declared independence.

Serbia’s parliament subsequently adopted a resolution calling for Kosovo Serbs to be given broad autonomy, a move seen as tacit recognition of Pristina’s authority over the territory of Kosovo, where about 90 per cent of the 1.7 million residents are ethnic Albanians.

Mr Dacic was quoted on Tuesday evening as having gone even further, by telling reporters that “we can agree on everything” when asked about Kosovo’s ambition to become a member of the United Nations, something until now that was opposed by Belgrade and major ally Russia.

“We are seeking a comprehensive settlement, but for that to happen something has to be given,” Serbia’s state news agency quoted Mr Dacic as saying. “They [Kosovo] are pressuring us through the European Union, and we’re not letting them into the United Nations. Are we supposed to go on sparring like that for years?” he said.

Illusory

Amid a furious response from hardline nationalist politicians, however, Mr Dacic made clear yesterday that he considered it pointless to discuss the UN issue now.

“If there is no discussion of status, about a final or comprehensive solution, then it would be illusory to talk about membership of the UN, or other bodies, because Serbia could never agree with that,” Mr Dacic said.

President Tomislav Nikolic was more blunt, saying that Serbia’s position “is that it will never recognise Kosovo, and if it is not recognised, then so-called Kosovo will never have a seat at the UN.” If Mr Dacic thought this was possible, “then I disagree with that”, Mr Nikolic added.

In Pristina, Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci dismissed Belgrade’s proposal for broad autonomy for the fledgling state’s Serb population.

“There will be no partition, no autonomy, no special status,” Mr Thaci said, while welcoming Belgrade’s apparent “change of attitude” towards Kosovo.

Mr Thaci and Mr Dacic are due to meet for talks in Brussels today.