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11 Mar, 2008 12:09

Serb uncertainty as parliament dissolved

Serbs are preparing for a crucial parliamentary election in May, caused by divisions over Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said he could no longer govern in a coalition with the president’s pro-western Democr

“The Serbian government does not have a united policy over the important issue on the future of the country, whether Kosovo is actually within Serbia, and a government that does not have united policies cannot function – and so that's the end of the government,” Kostunica said.

The conflict between the former Serbian prime minister and president came to a head when Boris Tadic declared independence for Serbia shortly after.

Kostunica insisted that the country should stop negotiations over EU membership because of Western support for Kosovo independence.

Meanwhile, Boris Tadic insisted he was ready to move ahead regardless.

“The citizens of Serbia deserve a better life and economic prosperity which is only possible in the European Union. Elections are also the chance to affirm democratic capacity, to renew all potential for the defence of Kosovo, to strengthen the economy and improve the position of the country in the international community,” he said.

Both the former Prime Minister and the President recognise that EU membership carries huge economic benefits. The question is whether Kosovo is a price worth paying for it.

Officials of the newly independent state think Serbia is on the threshold of a new era. Hashim Thaci, Kosovo Prime Minister, said:

“In fact, historically, decisions that we have taken in Kosovo have always influenced democratisation in Serbia.”

“And with the independence of Kosovo, Kostunica has fallen which is to say that the mentality of the past has fallen. We hope and believe that this is the case,” he added.

Borislav Milosevic, brother of the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, told a press conference in Moscow that he cannot see stability in Serbia after the snap election in May.

“Even if Koshtunica's party and his allies will get the majority of votes at the snap general election in May, I'm only saying that theoretically, the opposition, with their other option, will keep its pressure through protests and comments. Unfortunately, it means that whatever the result of the election may be, I do not see any stability for Serbia in the future, although I'd very much like to,” Borislav Milosevic said.

Vasily Likhachev, from the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council, says Serbia's desire  to join the European Union will not affect its close ties with Russia.

“I think that Russia was – and will be – Serbia's strategic partner. I'd also like to stress that we're not trying to discourage the Serbs from co-operation with Brussels. We've always told our partners – and the European Union is certainly among them – that their political and economic contacts with any state, especially a Balkan state, will be resourceful as long as they proceed with respect for international laws,” he said.