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ANALYSIS: Serbia’s Tadic in a tight bind over EU aspirations

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ANALYSIS: Serbia’s Tadic in a tight bind over EU aspirations

By Boris Babic Nov 17, 2011, 17:58 GMT

Belgrade – Serbian President Boris Tadic appeared to have painted himself into a corner Thursday, as Kosovo Serbs rejected his orders to cooperate with the European Union – fuelling doubts that Belgrade can do enough to be recognized as a European Union membership candidate in a just few weeks’ time.

Tadic, leading a fragile coalition, has governed Serbia since 2008 by promising to take the country closer to EU membership while not giving up on Kosovo, the mostly Albanian former province that declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Serbs from northern Kosovo regard their enclave as Serbian soil and Belgrade as their capital. Fiercely hostile to Albanians, they see the EU talks as a trade-off in which Tadic will hand them to Pristina in exchange for a key to Serbia’s EU accession.

Until recently, Tadic’s camp had hoped that the EU at its summit in Brussels on December 9 will recognize Serbia as a membership candidate and set the date for the start of accession talks.

Under pressure from the West, Serbia agreed in March to launch talks with Kosovo, under EU mediation, to resolve problems stemming from its row with Pristina over Kosovo.

But negotiations stalled over the contentious issues of borders and Belgrade walked out in September, when tensions in northern Kosovo led to a confrontation with NATO peacekeepers.

Belgrade sided with its compatriots, who blocked all traffic in their northern enclave in order to prevent Kosovo from taking control over its border with Serbia.

EU heavyweights – Germany, France and Britain – meanwhile are showing growing impatience with Serbia, saying it must not only return to the talks, but also implement agreements from the first five rounds if it wants to move closer to membership.

Tadic wants to comply. But the Kosovo Serbs in their northern enclave do not. On Thursday, they flatly rejected the talks and existing agreement, spurring doubt on signals from Belgrade that the talks were are set to continue.

Now Tadic, who as president has limited formal authority but is the leader of the governing alliance, faces the choice of turning his back either on the EU or the Serbian Kosovars, in what most Serbs regard as the nation’s heartland.

Complicating the calculations are the fast approaching dates – the EU summit next month and Serbian parliamentary elections due imminently, although a date has not yet been set.

‘In the end, he will probably do nothing, because he can do nothing,’ former Serbian diplomat Mirko Stojcevic said. ‘He will probably just wait for December 9 and hope that Serbia will, despite all, be promoted to the status of an EU membership candidate.’

In that case, elections would be called immediately, for the first half of February, so Tadic’s Democratic Party could reap the benefits of its ‘success’ in Brussels.

‘If Serbia does not get the candidacy, then he will delay the elections until at least April,’ said Stojcevic, now a political analyst for the Western Balkan Capital investment fund.

In that case, Tadic, who has said that he will never recognize Kosovo and abandon his compatriots, will probably turn to a more populist nationalism,

‘Whether that can work, it is too early to tell,’ Stojcevic said. ‘But in either case the Kosovo crisis will be resolved neither by the EU summit, nor for the elections.’

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1675907.php/ANALYSIS-Serbia-s-Tadic-in-a-tight-bind-over-EU-aspirations

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Written by Mika

20. novembra 2011. u 11:56

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