EU calls for dialoge on Kosovo independence, Serbia not happy

EU called for dialogue on Kosovo's independence as Serbia rejected the World Court ruling that backed Kosovo's independence declaration.

EU calls for dialoge on Kosovo independence, Serbia not happy

The European Union urged Serbia and Kosovo to improve their relations to bolster their chances of joining the bloc, after the World Court found Kosovo's independence from Serbia legal on Thursday.

But, Serbia rejected the World Court ruling that backed Kosovo's independence declaration, a stand that might create more problems for its stalled European Union membership bid.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc was ready to help Belgrade and Pristina hold a dialogue.

"The EU is ... ready to facilitate a process of dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. This dialogue would be to promote cooperation, achieve progress on the path to Europe and improve the lives of the people," she said in a statement.

Both Serbia and Kosovo hope to join the EU one day but face years of difficult reforms before they are ready. Reconciliation between them will be vital as well, Ashton said.

"Good neighbourly relations, regional cooperation and dialogue are the foundations on which the EU is built," she said.

Serbia lost control of Kosovo in 1999 following a Nato bombing campaign intended to stop the killing of ethnic Albanians. Kosovo declared independence nine years later.

In 2008 Kosovo declared independence, prompting Belgrade to seek an opinion on the legality of the move from The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ).

"Serbia reaction"

"Serbia will never recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo," Tadic told reporters in the Serbian capital. The government called an urgent session for Friday.

He said Thursday's ruling was "a difficult decision for Serbia" but Belgrade would continue to try for a United Nations resolution that would urge both sides to start a dialogue.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic also said Serbia would continue to treat Kosovo as "its territory". Brussels wants Serbia to show "a constructive stance" on Kosovo to advance its EU bid, on hold since it applied for membership last December.

But, the European Union and the European Parliament welcomed the ICJ ruling.

Tadic said Serbia would not resort to violence and would prefer to negotiate a compromise solution with Kosovo.

Serbian opposition parties were quick to attack the ruling coalition for "a major failure of their foreign policy" and demanded an urgent session of parliament.

Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008 brought down the Kostunica government after only one year in office.

Tomislav Nikolic of the conservative Serbian Progressive Party, the strongest opposition group in parliament, said the ICJ ruling "was profoundly bad for Serbia."

"The Serbian leadership was fooling the people with its claims that the ruling will be in our favour," he said in a televised address to reporters.

"EU bids"

With the verdict out of the way, observers said, Serbia should be able to focus on mending ties with its neighbours, although Belgrade's initial reaction was defiant. It rejected any chances of ever recognising Kosovo.

"(The ruling) should make it perhaps easier for people in Serbia to accept ... they won't be able to turn the clock back," said Anthony Dworkin of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

"It should be an incentive to people in Serbia who are serious about EU aspirations to go ahead and get a deal."

Belgrade has already applied to join the EU but progress has been stalled at times.

But EU diplomats say Serbia will need to make more effort to hunt remaining war crimes fugitives and could run into more opposition from some EU governments if it fails to forge dialogue with Kosovo.

Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Belgrade would continue to try to meet EU expectations.

"To become a member of the European Union is a strategic aim and we are not going to give it up," he said in The Hague.

Progress may depend on recognising Kosovo, observers said.

"Ultimately ... for stability in the western Balkans, Serbia should by its own free will recognize Kosovo and unblock its access to the EU, U.N. and other multilateral institutions," said Sabine Freizer of the International Crisis Group.

Kosovo is not yet ready to apply for EU membership, EU diplomats say, but is receiving millions of euros from the bloc to help it prepare.

Nearly 70 countries have already recognised Kosovo as an independent state, including the United States and 22 of the 27 European Union members, but a handful of EU governments still oppose it.


Agencies

Last Mod: 23 Temmuz 2010, 12:21
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