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30 Jul 12 Belgrade Condemns Ahtisaari over Kosovo

Belgrade has condemned the statement from former UN envoy who said that Serbia should be denied EU membership until it recognizes Kosovo.

Belgrade

The newly appointed Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic warned on Sunday that the statement by the former UN envoy to the Kosovo status process, Martti Ahtisaari, that Serbia should not be allowed into the EU before it recognizes Kosovo was counterproductive and that Brussels needed to react to it.

"There is no need for a harsh reaction. I expect the EU to react before anyone else, because Ahtisaari is certainly not speaking on their behalf," Dacic told reporters, during a visit to the village of Ratari in the central Serbian municipality of Smederevska Palanka on Sunday.

EC "without comment" on former UN envoy's statements

A spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule says the European Commission "would not comment" on Martti Ahtisaari's recent statements.

"We do not comment on views voiced in the media by individuals, whether they are active or former politicians," Peter Stano told Tanjug news agency.

Ahtisaari's statement is especially counterproductive given that Belgrade and Pristina are trying to resolve their issues through talks, said Dacic.

Belgrade and Pristina began talks in Brussels in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence, which Serbia refuses to recognise.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, mutual recognition of university diplomas and on Kosovo's representation at regional meetings.

Martti Ahtisaari made his controversial comments in the July 28 issue of the Zagreb based Vecernji List newspaper.

"Serbia lost all claim to Kosovo long ago. It mistreated Kosovans for years”, Ahtisaari told the daily newspaper.

When asked to comment on Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic's statement that he would not recognize Kosovo even at the cost of being disqualified for EU membership, Ahtisaari replied that "if they want to ally themselves with Russia, they can go there".

Borislav Stefanovic, who used to head Belgrade's team in the dialogue with Pristina, believes that even though the former UN envoy for Kosovo was expressing a personal view, his word did carry weight in Europe.

"If people like Ahtisaari are passing judgement on Serbia's integration with the EU, this could become a formal position," Stefanovic told Tanjug, noting it would be up to the new government and diplomacy to try to avoid such a situation.

According to Aleksandar Vulin, the new head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo, Ahtisaari was returning a favour to Albanian lobbyists, but Serbia did not owe him anything and would abide by its Constitution, which states that Kosovo is part of Serbia.

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