Kosovo-Serbia Deals Upset Serbian Opposition


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.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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