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Serbia to resist external pressure in Kosovo dispute

Serb premier Vojislav Koštunica says no pressure or promise of reward can force Serbia to give up its right to preserve its sovereignty.

The prime minister’s comments came yesterday in response to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s statement that Serbia should recognize Kosovo independence in order to become a member of the European Union.In a public statement, Koštunica said that he had given his answer once and for all when he had taken oath of loyalty to Serbia and the Constitution as prime minister before parliament.

“Any Serbian prime minister would respond the same way to any suggestion that Serbia should renounce a part of its territory in return for some other benefit,” he declared. Koštunica stressed that Serbia would not, under any form of pressure or offer of incentive, waive its right to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized frontiers. Brown had earlier said that Belgrade’s hopes of joining the EU could depend on its readiness to accept Kosovo’s right to independence.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday that Serbia's goal to join the European Union could depend on whether Belgrade was prepared to accept Kosovo's “right to independence.” Speaking before a Parliamentary Select Committee, Brown called on Serbia to "strike a deal" over Kosovo’s future status, the AP news agency reported. Brown stressed that Downing Street was in favor of the province’s supervised independence, together with guaranteed rights for the Kosovo Serbs. (B92)