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Serbia set to keep Kosovo, even if EU integration jeopardized

A spokesman for Serbia’s ruling party said the country was determined to retain Kosovo, even at the expense of rapprochement with the European Union.

Wolfgang Ischinger, an EU envoy to the talks on Kosovo, said last week that the future of Serbia and Kosovo in Europe would depend on their ability to find a compromise. Serbia will not cede a single bit of its territory, even if the country is cut off from European integration,” said Branislav Ristivojevic of the Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, according to the Tanyug news agency.

The Albanian-dominated province of Kosovo in Serbia has been a UN protectorate since NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in 1999. “Serbia’s position is clear, and it does not accept any division of Kosovo into Serbian and Albanian parts,” Ristivojevic said. Belgrade has offered Kosovo the widest possible autonomy.

On Sunday, envoys from the so-called troika of the EU, US and Russia ended a three-day visit to Belgrade and Pristina where they met with the Serbian leadership, representatives of Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs. The troika was established July 25 to mediate during new Kosovo talks between Belgrade and Pristina as part of the Contact Group for Kosovo, which also includes France, Italy and Germany. The EU and the US have backed Kosovo’s striving for independence, while Russia, a traditional Serbian ally, has opposed the move, saying it would violate Serbia’s territorial integrity and set a dangerous precedent for breakaway republics in general. A draft resolution on Kosovo by UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, which would have ceded 15% of the Balkan state’s territory, was voted down in the UN Security Council in July. (