By Bojana Barlovac
Agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina over civil registries and freedom of movement in the fifth round of negotiations in Brussels have raised sharp criticism from opposition parties, complaining that the deals represent a step towards recognition of the independence of the breakaway former province.
Although Serbian state officials claim the agreements do not imply indirect recognition of Kosovo independence but only facilitate daily life for Kosovo’s minority Serbs, most opposition parties disagree.
The leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, Vojislav Kostunica, said Serbia’s ruling Democrats were accomplices to the Western powers in the process of making “an illegal state of Kosovo.
“Through history, Serbia had its ups and downs, victories and defeats, but this is the first time that the government declared capitulation a success and thus directly deceived its own people,” Kostunica said.
Zoran Krasic, Vice-President of the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, went further, saying his party would not recognize the results of any talks between Belgrade and Pristina as they could only be unconstitutional. Serbia’s 2006 Constitution defines Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia.
Krasic accused the centrist government of losing Kosovo “slowly but steadily” for the sake of EU membership. “The independence of Kosovo is a precondition for the EU entry of Serbia, which will never be a member of either the EU nor NATO, because they will consistently set new conditions for membership,” Krasic said.
Serbia’s biggest opposition party, the Serbian Progressive Party, has taken a more moderate stance, saying Serbia must not recognize Kosovo, but that the talks between Belgrade and Pristina should continue.
However, Zorana Mihajlovic Milanovic, a leading party member, expressed concern over the prospect of Serbian recognition of university diplomas from Kosovo – a step expected to be made later this year.
Ever since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, Serbia’s non-recognition of Kosovo diplomas has been a major grievance for ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia who often study in Kosovo. “The moment diplomas are recognized, that practically means recognition of Kosovo,” Mihajlovic Milanovic told reporters.