Serbia to Reject ‘Humiliating’ Kosovo Compromise, PM Says

Serbia would reject any “humiliating” compromise with the breakaway province of Kosovo in order to improve its chances of starting European Union membership talks in April, Premier Ivica Dacic said.

Dacic will meet Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on April 2 for a final round of EU-mediated talks on solutions for Serb-dominated Kosovar municipalities. The EU has demanded the two sides reach a political settlement as a condition to move ahead with EU accession, Dacic told Parliament.

“Humiliation is no solution for Kosovo” and any solution should take into account that “Serbia cannot exercise authority or apply its Constitution and laws in Kosovo and Pristina can’t do it either in the north,” Dacic, a former aide to the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, said yesterday. The country’s leadership meets today to outline a strategy.

Serbia, a candidate for EU membership since March 2012, may get a date for the start of formal talks by June if it shows enough progress in mending ties with Kosovo.

The EU-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo need to be completed before April 16, when EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton reports to the European Commission before presenting a report to the Council of Ministers six days later.

‘Serious Consequences’

The country “finds itself in a dramatically difficult position,” Marko Djuric, a foreign policy adviser to the Serbian president, said in Belgrade today. “The citizens need to know that we will face serious consequences, whatever the decision, because the other side was not ready for compromise.”

Dacic, the head of the Socialist Party, wants to find a lasting solution during his term for Kosovo, the breakaway province that declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by more than 90 states worldwide, including 22 of 27 EU members.

His nine-month old Cabinet is dominated by former nationalists of the Serbian Progressive Party, which has campaigned for early parliamentary elections as the popularity of their leader, Aleksandar Vucic, soared after an arrest of Serbia’s richest businessman in December.

Vucic’s party would be backed by 38.6 percent of voters if snap elections were held this month, according to a March opinion poll presented by the Belgrade-based pollster Faktor Plus.

Party Rankings

Dacic’s Socialists would rank third, with 13.6 percent support, trailing behind the Democratic Party, the largest opposition party that lost elections last May and currently enjoys a 14.8 percent backing, according to the survey which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The Progressives, who control the central bank and are fighting against corruption, appointed Dacic the chief negotiator for talks with Kosovo, which Serbia sees as the cultural cradle of the nation.

Ashton invited Vucic for talks to Brussels on April 2 and wants the German and British foreign ministers to participate to encourage a compromise, according to B92 news portal.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.