news 08 Feb 13

Dacic Being 'Set Up' For Moderation on Kosovo

As leaked information on Ivica Dacic's ties with a drug clan floods the Serbian media, some suspect a set-up aimed at punishing him for his readiness to resolve the Kosovo issue.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Sociologist Vesna Pesic says that the political scandal engulfing Interior and Prime Minister Dacic is a set-up, aimed at punishing him for his apparent willingness to resolve the Kosovo issue.

"Dacic is the first Serbian politician to sit down at the table to talk equally with a political representative of Kosovo Albanians," Pesic wrote on the Serbian website Pescanik on Friday.

According to Pesic, Dacic, who is also leader of the Socialist Party, "signed his death penalty" when he said in January that Serbia might allow Kosovo to join the UN, but that Kosovo would have to give back something in return.

Serbia bitterly opposes Kosovo's independence, proclaimed in 2008, and has boycotted any events where Kosovo officials were represented under the name of "Kosovo".

The two countries started EU-led talks in March 2011 and have reached several agreements so far. In October, the talks were raised to a higher level when the Kosovo and Serbia Prime Ministers, Hashim Thaci and Dacic, met in Brussels for the first time.

Last weekend, the Serbian media published leaked data on meetings between Dacic and Rodoljub Radulovic, a high-ranking member of suspected drug lord Darko Saric's gang.

On Sunday, Dacic confirmed he had met Radulovic several times, adding that he had no confirmation at the time that Radulovic was a suspected criminal.

Saric, of Montenegrin origin but holding Serbian citizenship, is the alleged leader of an organised criminal group accused of smuggling cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

Prosecutors filed charges against Saric and his associates in April 2010 and issued a warrant for his arrest. Both Saric and Radulovic are at large.

Dragan Markovic, leader of the United Serbia party, said the controversy around Dacic reminded him of the furore around the later Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic's alleged connections with the mafia.

"The same campaign was created before Djindjic was killed, and then all of Serbia wept for him," Markovic told the daily newspaper Informer on Friday.

Meanwhile, Dacic met with US Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Washington on Friday.

According to a statement, Dacic and the top DEA officials agreed to continue cooperation and the Prime Minister pointed to the importance of the DEA in helping Serbia curb drug trafficking.

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