Serbia agrees to Kosovo dialogue
Issued on: Modified:
Serbia has agreed to call for "dialogue" with Kosovo in a draft UN resolution that will also strengthen the EU's mediating role in the dispute, officials and experts said on Wednesday. The draft resolution, which is set to go before the UN General Assembly, now "presents a compromise which Serbia has reached in cooperation with the European Union", Serbia's government said in a statement.
EU foreign policy chief, Catherin Ashton, hailed the new draft as "a reflection of our common commitment to Serbia's European perspective."
The amended draft "calls for a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in accordance with our principal stance that a mutually acceptable solution... can be found through negotiations", the statement said.
The Serbian government insisted however that the draft "does not, in any way, recognise the independence" of Kosovo.
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 70 states, including the US and most EU members, have recognised Kosovo as an independent state.
Belgrade submitted the draft resolution after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a non-binding opinion in July that Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence did not violate international law.
The original draft was much-criticised by the EU leaders, as 22 of 27 EU member states have recognised Kosovo.
However, at the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Serbia's draft, backed by Russia and China - UN Security Council permanent members who also oppose Kosovo's independence --might have approached a majority of 192 UN member states.
Serbian President Boris Tadic, who met with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels on Tuesday, said that "a formula to open a dialogue on future solutions has been found."
In June the EU authorised the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia, a trade and aid pact considered the first official step on the long road towards full membership in the EU.
Last December Serbia formally applied to begin membership talks but the EU nations must together make the decision to hand the application on to the commission.