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As pressure grows on Serbia to recognise breakaway former province, Vucic says Serbia may have to hold an 'either-or' referendum on the country's priorities.
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister, has said that Serbia may hold a referendum inviting voters to choose between Kosovo and EU integration.
"A referendum is always possible as the last means through which citizens can voice their democratic will," Vucic told reporters.
The warning broadside came after a number of senior EU officials have suggested that recognition of Kosovo's independence may be a precondition for Serbia joining the European Union.
The official stance of Brussels remains that "normalisation" of relations with Pristina is the only precondition - but Belgrade clearly feels that the goalposts over Kosovo are being shifted.
Vucic spoke as Belgrade was expected to restart EU-mediated talks with Pristina by the end of September.
The EU launched a dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo in March 2011 with the aim of normalising tense relations between Serbia and its former province, whose independence, declared in 2008, Belgrade does not recognise.
So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, mutual recognition of university diplomas and on the representation of Kosovo at regional meetings attended by Serbia. However, the agreements have not been implemented so far.
Talks were put on hold following the May 6 general elections in Serbia, which resulted in the Democrats, led by Boris Tadic, losing power.
Vucic said that the new government intended to implement the existing agreements "as long as they are in line with the Serbian Constitution", which describes Kosovo as integral part of Serbia.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is finishing its annual report on Serbia's EU progress, which is to be presented on October 10.
According to the Serbian daily, Danas, the Commission is likely to qualify Serbia's EU integration progress as limited.
"It will not explicitly recommend the European Council to grant Serbia a date for the beginning of its EU accession talks," the newspaper predicted.
Serbia became an EU candidate in March 2012 and is hoping to get the date for start of the EU accession talks this year.
According to a latest survey, Serbian support for EU membership has dropped below 50 per cent.
If a referendum on EU membership bid was held now, 49 per cent of Serbians who took part in a survey would say yes to joining, 25 per cent would say no, 19 per cent would not vote, and 8 per cent are not sure what their answer would be.
Support before was over 60 per cent and the highest percentage was in December 2003 – 73 per cent. Support has been declining since December 2010.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between Kosovo and Serbia, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle urged both sides to take real steps to implement their EU-brokered agreement.
Officials have launched a week-long series of events aimed at raising awareness about tolerance, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence between different religious faiths in Kosovo.
As Pristina and Belgrade seek agreement on implementing their EU-brokered deal, Albanian leaders in Serbia’s Presevo Valley are urging the Kosovo authorities to help them win more rights.
The Serbian paramilitary who became a key prosecution witness at his former comrades’ trial for war crimes in Kosovo says he had to speak out about the brutal massacres his unit committed.
Despite two failed meetings about the implementation of the EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia, officials hope that prime ministerial talks next week will see progress.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has invited the Serbian and Kosovo prime ministers to a meeting next week to discuss how to implement their Brussels-brokered deal.
NATO’s Kosovo force warned that only authorised policing groups are allowed to carry weapons in northern Kosovo, not Serb-organised ‘civil defence’ units.
Former high-ranking Serbian interior ministry official Vlastimir Djordjevic admitted war crimes were committed against Kosovo Albanians during the 1999 conflict and apologised to civilian victims.
Lawmakers were advised to find different ways of remembering wartime fighters and victims after a series of parliamentary sessions commemorating individual ‘martyrs’.
Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister and leaders in the Serb-run north of Kosovo have reached an agreement on the implementation of the EU-brokered deal.
Kosovo's authority will be introduced to Serb-run northern Kosovo in three stages, BIRN can reveal, as Kosovo Serb leaders warn the EU-backed plan may prompt them to emigrate.