Serbian government at its end, officials hint
(dpa) - The Serbian cabinet appeared at its end Fiday, when Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Belgrade was "in a big crisis" and he could no longer trust his coalition partners.
"I no more have confidence in the coalition partners ... that they are honestly fighting to save Kosovo," Kostunica told the state news agency Tanjug. "The government of Serbia is in a big crisis."
Kostunica clashed with his pro-European partners by insisting that Serbia should not continue negotiating membership of the European Union because of Western support for Kosovo.
The other side in the coalition, President Boris Tadic's Democratic Party (DS) and the reformist G17, said elections should decide Serbia's course if Kostunica completes his turn away from EU.
Kosovo, with its majority Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in February. Leading Western nations recognized the new state, and the EU deployed a mission to aid it.
DS and G17 ministers outvoted Kostunica in his own cabinet on Thursday to block a resolution that would have effectively cemented the suspension of Serbia's EU talks.
The draft resolution, fielded by the ultra-nationalist opposition, insisted that Serbia could negotiate membership only if Brussels recognized its sovereignty over Kosovo - which is an impossibility.
The conservative premier has turned increasingly nationalist and pro-Russian as Kosovo's split neared. Since, he has sided with the ultra-nationalist opposition Serbian Radical Party (SRS).
DS and G17 say that if DSS quits the ruling coalition, Serbia should hold early elections.
"The votes of the ruling coalition were won on the goal to accelerate Serbia's European integration - if somebody wants to change that, the crisis should be resolved by elections," a top DS official, Nada Kolundzija, said.
Suzana Grubjesic of G17 said sides in the coalition were "unable to bridge their differences in view of which road Serbia should embark. She told the Beta news agency that "only" early elections could resolve the crisis.
But Kostunica may combine with the SRS and Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists for a new majority in parliament and a new cabinet to avert early elections and a test of his dwindling popularity.
That also could end the paralysis of the government and parliament, inflicted by Kostunica's shift toward the far right; as it is, he is a minority in the government, but has the majority in parliament with his new allies.
"Parliamentary parties must over the next few days agree on how to emerge from this crisis," Kostunica said. His Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) was due to consider its options early next week.