Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

Serbian leader would give up EU to keep Kosovo

Serbia's new President, Tomislav Nikolic, has told Russia he would give up EU membership for Kosovo, but wants to have both.

Nikolic went to Moscow on Friday (26 May) in his first post-election but pre-inauguration foreign trip.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Nikolic (l) and Putin in Moscow (Photo: kremlin.ru)

He told press after the meeting that if the EU ever asks him to recognise Kosovo's independence, then: "We cannot do that, even if it meant breaking off [EU entry] negotiations at that very moment."

He added, however: "Serbia is on the road to the EU. It is a long and uncertain road. We will order our country according to the rules that exist in the EU."

He repeated his position in an interview with broadcaster Russia Today: "Europe is a very attractive partner for Serbia and our country should fulfill almost all the conditions that the EU imposes. This process should stop only if they ask us to renounce a part of our territory: I'm referring to Kosovo."

Five EU countries - Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain - also do not recognise Kosovo.

But EU diplomats are exploring a solution in which an ethnic-Serb-controlled enclave in north Kosovo could be given some form of autonomy as a way out of the stalemate.

Nikolic told Russia Today that he is open to the idea if average Serbs support it as part of a future referendum on EU membership.

"At this moment, and from the point of view of the constitution, it is not possible. If more of the citizens of Serbia say Yes in a referendum? I don't know," he said.

On practical day-to-day relations, he added that he will continue the EU-sponsored dialogue with Pristina, but he will not meet Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci unless Thaci is first cleared of allegations of Serb organ trafficking.

He indicated that he is willing to work with Serb moderate Boris Tadic, who is poised to become prime minister.

Tadic, who lost the Serb presidency in elections on 6 May, also says he will never give up Kosovo despite his pro-EU credentials.

Nikolic is known as a nationalist who held high office under "the butcher of the Balkans" Slobodan Milosevic. But he told Russia Today that the label is unfair: "I'm nationalist, but I'm a democrat as well ... Probably a lot of time will pass till the Western press accepts me."

On Serbia-Russia relations, he said that "since 2000 Serbia has been moving away from Russia" but "the EU shouldn't think that it's our unique partner, because this way it could impose really harsh conditions."

For his part, Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday said: "We see Serbia as our spiritual brothers."

He noted that he is ready to loan Nikolic $800 million for infrastructure projects. But he declined to say when the money will be paid out.

Opinion

Serbia: deja vu no more

In a sign of gradual normalisation, Serbia's core concerns now mirror those of much of Europe, writes Dimitar Bechev.

Opinion

Appeasement will not work with Erdogan

As EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker meet president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Bulgaria, their reluctance to use their diminishing leverage with Ankara means his dismantling of Turkey's democracy only speeds up.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  2. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ
  3. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  4. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  5. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  6. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  7. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  8. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law