Serbian premier puts Kosovo above EU, seeks "undivided" support
(dpa) - Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica on Tuesday again said that Serbia should put Kosovo above Europe and sought the undivided support of the deeply divided parliament.
"I again call parliamentary parties to affirm the undivided state and national policy in parliament ... that Kosovo is Serbia," Kostunica said in a statement.
The parliament was to discuss Wednesday a draft resolution by the opposition ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS). The document rules out EU membership for Serbia unless the EU accepts that Kosovo is a part of Serbia.
Albanian-dominated Kosovo declared independence from Serbia last month with the support of the United States and most EU states, which led to a virtual freezing of Serbia's relations with the West.
The coalition cabinet, in which the pro-European camp led by President Boris Tadic has more votes than Kostunica's nationalists, has been deadlocked over the question of whether the country should continue negotiating membership with Brussels while it backs Kosovo.
But in parliament, where the SRS is the single largest party, the nationalists have a clear majority. Aware that he would be outvoted in his own cabinet and unwilling to face elections, Kostunica has sought to shift state politics from the executive to the legislature.
"Instead of internal divisions over EU, a joint position is necessary that we want to continue European integrations as a whole country," Kostunica said.
He said he was convinced that "all parties can be satisfied" if aspirations "on European integrations" and the "defence of Kosovo" are both contained within a united state policy.
When forged after difficult talks 10 months ago, the Serbian government coalition pledged to press on toward EU membership while retaining sovereignty over Kosovo.
In reality, however, leading Western powers and an increasing number of countries have recognized Kosovo bilaterally, de facto cementing its secession despite objections from Serbia and its superpower ally Russia - which has blocked Kosovo's recognition in the UN.
Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia has said that it would back the SRS resolution, while Tadic's Democratic Party (DS) and its allies oppose it. If Kostunica pushes the resolution through with the SRS, it may terminate his cabinet and trigger early elections.
"It is unthinkable to change government policy by decision of a majority that has not elected the government," the DS floor leader Nada Kolundzija said.