Serbia in paralyzing quandary over Kosovo and EU

( dpa ) - Serbia remained blocked Wednesday, unable to decide whether it may warm to EU or complete the turn away from it, but moved yet another step closer to a toppled government.

Serbia's assembly adjourned indefinitely when an anti-EU resolution was pushed into the agenda past President Boris Tadic's Democratic Party (DS), the senior side in the crumbling ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), with fewer votes in the cabinet than the DS-led pro-European camp, has backed the draft resolution, put forward by the ultra- nationalist opposition Serbian Radical Party (SRS).

Among the already-stated insistence on sovereignty over the receding Kosovo, the document insists that membership talks with EU may continue only when Brussels acknowledges that the breakaway province is a part of Serbia.

Kostunica already froze the talks with EU in January over Western support of Kosovo, which declared independence a few weeks later, in mid-February. Some two dozen countries, including the big Western nations, have meanwhile recognized the new country.

Tadic and DS nevertheless remained on the pro-European course, though also insisting that Kosovo is and would remain Serbian.

Aware that the Kosovo/EU resolution would not pass the government, where DS and the small reformist G17 party would overrule it, DSS sided with the opposition to field it in an urgent procedure.

The assembly speaker and high-ranking DS official, Oliver Dulic, then simply adjourned the assembly saying that the government must okay the draft resolution. The SRS said that it would file a motion to replace Dulic.

DSS is however unlikely to allow the resolution's demise in the cabinet and Kostunica may decide not to convene it for its regular Thursday session.

That would again plunge Serbia into the total political paralysis it has already seen in January, when neither the cabinet nor parliament convened amid the DSS-DS struggle.

Now Kostunica has the choice of caving in to Tadic by scrapping the resolution, of siding with SRS for a new majority and cabinet, or of testing his dwindling popularity in early elections.

DSS said it would consider the motion for Dulic's sacking, while DS said it would wait.

If DSS backs the motion to replace Dulic, "it will be the end of the government of Serbia," the DS floor leader Nada Kolundzija told reporters.

In her words, already the inclusion of the resolution in the parliament agenda showed that "a new and different majority was created than the one which formed the cabinet."

Kostunica's cabinet was formed 10 months ago after long and ugly talks between "natural" political adversaries Tadic and Kostunica.

Using his position between pro-European and the hardline nationalist blocs, he secured the premiership for himself and power for DSS that is disproportionate to the number of the party's votes in parliament.

Latest surveys indicated that early polls would produce more of the same - the nationalists and the pro-Europeans in balance, with Kostunica, though even with less support, again in the driver's seat.

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