News / Europe

Serbia Rejects Kosovo Deal, Begs EU for More Time

A woman walks past a graffiti depicting part of the Serbian coat of arms in the northern Serb dominated, part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo, April 3, 2013.
A woman walks past a graffiti depicting part of the Serbian coat of arms in the northern Serb dominated, part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo, April 3, 2013.
Reuters
Serbia on Monday rejected a European Union-brokered plan to tackle the ethnic partition of its former province Kosovo, a move that could hurt Belgrade's hopes of starting membership talks with the bloc.

But the coalition government called for the "urgent" continuation of negotiations to reach an accord, with the EU set to consider this month whether to recommend the start of accession talks with Serbia.

Membership talks would mark a major milestone in Serbia's recovery from a decade of war and isolation under late strongman Slobodan Milosevic and provide a much- needed boost for its ailing economy, still the biggest in the former Yugoslavia.

The EU had set a Tuesday deadline for Kosovo and Serbia to accept the principles on the table after talks ended last week without result. Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia in a 1998-99 war and declared independence in 2008, had already said it was ready to sign the deal.

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has mediated in negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo over the past six months, urged Belgrade to make a last push for a deal.

"I believe that all the elements for an agreement on northern Kosovo are on the table ... I regret the decision of the Serbian government to reject the proposals and call on them to make a last effort to reach an agreement, for the benefit of their people,'' she said in a statement.

Facing a potential backlash from hardliners and a warning from the influential Orthodox Church, Serbia balked, saying the offer fell far short of the broad autonomy it wants for a small Serb enclave of majority ethnic Albanian Kosovo.

"The government of Serbia calls for the urgent continuation of dialogue ... with the mediation of the EU in order to reach a lasting solution,'' the government said in a declaration read out by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic at a meeting of his cabinet.

"The government of Serbia cannot accept the proposed solution as it does not guarantee the safety and human rights of Serbs in Kosovo,'' he said.

The cabinet voted unanimously to adopt the declaration, which would be sent to Ashton.

More talks?

Ashton is due to issue a progress report on the situation on April 16 that will likely decide whether the EU launches Serbia on the long path of accession talks this year.

Ashton had said an inconclusive 12-hour meeting last week between the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia would be the last.

But her statement on Monday appeared to suggest she would be prepared to host more talks if there was hope of an agreement.

"They [Serbia] need to come up with very clear ideas of what they want," an EU source said.

Neighboring Croatia, Serbia's wartime foe during the collapse of Yugoslavia, is set to become the EU's 28th member on July 1, but Belgrade's progress has long been hamstrung by its refusal to come to terms with Kosovo's secession.

The West wants Belgrade to cede its fragile hold on a northern, Serb-populated pocket of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians are the 90-percent majority - an ethnic partition that frequently flares into violence and has frustrated NATO plans to cut back its now 6,000-strong Kosovo peacekeeping force.

In a major U-turn in policy, Serbia has offered to recognise the authority of the Pristina government over the entire territory of Kosovo, but wants broad autonomy for the 50,000 Serbs living in the north.

Full details of the EU-brokered proposal have not yet been made public, but Belgrade made clear it fell short of its demands, particularly that the north control its own police and judiciary.

Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 when NATO launched 11 weeks of air strikes to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces waging a brutal counter-insurgency campaign under Milosevic.

Considered by many Serbs as the cradle of their nation and Orthodox Christian faith, the territory of 1.7 million people declared independence in 2008 and has been recognised by more than 90 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU's 27 members.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid