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5 Feb, 2008 19:21

EU offer to Serbia a ‘hoax’: PM Kostunica

Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has denounced plans to sign a trade deal with the EU. His statement has once again exposed underlying disagreements with the country's President Boris Tadic.

Kostunica has labelled the offer a 'hoax' meant to trap the country into accepting Kosovo's independence.  

He's urged an emergency meeting of the Serbian parliament to stop the EU mission.

Kosovo, which has been under UN administration since 1999, could declare independence in the coming weeks, despite opposition from Serbia and Russia.

Serbia divided on EU integration

Serbia is set to sign a co-operation deal with the European Union on Thursday lifting trade and travel restrictions.  

On Sunday, pro-western Tadic won 51 per cent of the vote, while nationalist Tomislav Nikolic gained 47 per cent.

Thousands of mostly young Tadic supporters poured in from all over Belgrade to celebrate. Boris Tadic basked in the glory. But he says that more needs to be done.

“We now need to work on serious problems: crime, corruption. We are facing new, local elections. We need new people. We cannot solve these problems with the same people in power,” Tadic stressed.  

Although he only won by a narrow margin, the high turnout gives a strong mandate to Boris Tadic. Serbia will continue to follow the path to European integration, both politically and economically.

Furthermore Tadic's shaky parliamentary coalition with Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica looks like it will live to fight another day.

As the results came in, the mood at Tomislav Nikolic's Radical Party headquarters grew despondent. The runner up to Tadic yet again, Nikolic accused his rival of staging a dirty campaign that caricatured him as an unelectable isolationist. Nevertheless he readily conceded defeat.

Kosovo independence

With the election now out of the way, it means Kosovo once again becomes the main bone of contention. Kosovo's officials have hinted they may postpone a declaration of independence following the re-election of Boris Tadic – but not for long.  

A lot of paperwork is yet to be done. The declaration of independence is not ready, nor is the constitution of the new state. Its first draft will only be available on February 17. Forty laws have to be drafted and passed before the independence of Kosovo can be declared.

71 per cent of Kosovo's Serbian population voted for Tomislav Nikolic. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo's capital Pristina say they were not really interested in the outcome of Serbian election, because for them the declaration of independence is just a question of time.  

The province's Serbian minority fears that once Kosovo breaks from Serbia they will have to leave. Some Serbs living there have already been exiled from other parts of former Yugoslavia.

Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, the Russian Representative in the Kosovo negotiating troika, says Russia will not recognise the region as an independent state if it declares independence unilaterally.