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No bargain with EU on Kosovo status - Serbian diplomat

Serbia will not recognize Kosovo's independence in exchange for its membership to the European Union, the Serbian Ambassador to Russia said.
MOSCOW, August 7 (RIA Novosti) - Serbia will not recognize Kosovo's independence in exchange for its membership to the European Union, the Serbian ambassador to Russia said.

"I can assure you that there will be no bargaining [on Kosovo] and Serbia's accession to the EU will not be paid for by Kosovo independence," Stanimir Vukicevic told RIA Novosti.

The diplomat said Belgrade is conducting talks with the EU on Serbia's European integration, but reiterated that the status of Kosovo must be determined "on the basis of agreements and compromises within the UN Security Council."

"During the talks [with the EU] we insist that Serbia's accession to the European Union and Kosovo's status are separate and independent issues," Vukicevic said.

Determining the status of the province has been on the international agenda since NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in 1999. The region has remained a UN protectorate ever since.

According to a plan proposed by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari for Kosovo's independence, the UN must pass supervision over the region to the EU.

But the Serbian diplomat said the EU cannot assume administrative control over the disputed province without a UN resolution, that would give the European bloc legal authority to take over the UN protectorate.

A UN plan to grant sovereignty to Kosovo, regardless of Serbia's objections, has been removed from the UN Security Council agenda under pressure from veto-wielding Russia, Serbia's long-standing ally.

According to sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry, Belgrade and Pristina might hold another round of negotiations on the status of Kosovo later this week pending their readiness to host the Kosovo Contact Group's troika.

Established July 25 to mediate during new Kosovo talks between Serbia and Kosovo, the troika comprises Russia, the EU, and the United States as part of the Contact Group, which also involves France, Italy and Germany.

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