Saturday, August 28, 2010

Serbia ready for Kosovo compromise, up to a point: Tadic

BELGRADE — Serbia is ready to discuss changes to a draft resolution it has submitted to the UN General Assembly on Kosovo, but will never recognise the breakaway state, President Boris Tadic said Saturday.

Tadic's readiness to discuss the UN resolution with the European Union and other Western powers came days after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned Belgrade that it could not join the bloc without a deal on Kosovo.

Serbian officials will travel to Brussels in the coming days to "talk about possible changes to the draft resolution that would be acceptable to both Serbia and big powers," Tadic was quoted as saying by the Tanjug news agency.

A possible compromise "that will remain in line with Serbia's national interests but will also please big powers" will be discussed in Brussels and Washington soon, Tadic said.

Belgrade submitted the UN resolution after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a non-binding opinion in July that Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia did not violate international law.

The resolution, much-criticised in Europe and due to be debated at the UN General Assembly next month, calls for fresh talks on all outstanding issues but also condemns Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

Backed by the United States, the EU has warned Belgrade that insisting on the resolution could harm relations with Brussels and eventually its aspirations to become an EU member.

But Tadic said that no compromise was possible on acknowledging Kosovo's independence.

"Serbia will never recognise Kosovo. That is a red line that we will not cross," Tadic said.

"I told that to Westerwelle, (US Secretary of State Hilary) Clinton, (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy, (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and I tell that to all" others, Tadic said.

In February 2008 Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia, despite fierce opposition from Belgrade, which continued to consider it as its southern province.

So far 69 states, including the US and most EU members, have recognised Kosovo as an independent state.

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