Kostunica: EU talks only if Kosovo is with Serbia

Other News Materials 28 February 2008 14:53 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica again said that Serbia would not discuss membership of the European Union unless Brussels recognized Serbia and Kosovo as a single entity, local media reported Thursday.

"For us ... (it is) clear - when it comes to any further negotiations on EU membership it means for us only Serbia with Kosovo," he said in an interview with the Russia Today TV channel.

Kostunica has already frozen Serbia's already cumbersome approach to EU membership over the Western support of Kosovo's independence. Serbia's breakaway province, dominantly populated by Albanians, has declared a split from Belgrade's sovereignty on February 17.

Serbia has withdrawn ambassadors for consultations from the 20 countries that recognized Kosovo, including the United States and leading EU countries. US officials stressed that Kosovo would "never again" be a part of Serbia.

Belgrade's relations with the West were cooled even more following riots last week targeting the US and other embassies representing countries that Serbian nationalists consider to be hostile.

Kostunica is however a minority in his own government coalition, in which there are more votes in favour of integration with EU regardless of the Kosovo issue.

The rift between the nationalists Kostunica, who has been pushing for close ties with Russia and a turn away from the West, and his uneasy partner, the pro-European President Boris Tadic, has deadlocked the cabinet and may trigger early elections in Serbia.