By Milos Mitrovic- Belgrade
Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic announced that Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian deputy PM, will join today the Brussels negotiations about normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. He said yesterday that participation of Vucic in negotiation team from Belgrade would demonstrate unity of Serbia.
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and the mediator of the negotiations, stated last week that she would be “delighted” if Vucic would join the negotiation team led by Serbian PM Ivica Dacic. According to some earlier information from diplomatic sources, Vucic has been informally invited to join negotiations by EU and USA.
The eight round of the negotiations that starts today is supposed to bring forward the turning point in relations between Belgrade and Pristina. If Serbia would accept the conditions of EU, among which the main is the abolition of police and intelligence “parallel structures” on the north of Kosovo, the date of the beginning of negotiations for Serbia’s accession to EU is supposed to be granted. On the one hand, Serbia hopes to establish the autonomy for those municipalities on Kosovo where Serbs represent the majority of population. On the other hand, Pristina persists on the compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of Kosovo in order to avoid the creation of “just one more Republika Srpska”, what is the allusion to Serbian entity in Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Tomislav Nikolic said that “nothing will be definite tomorrow”. “We insist that the Association of Serb Municipalities on Kosovo decides on police and justice, without the presence of military forces…” He stated that Belgrade had no intentions to leave the negotiations and repeated that accession to EU was the goal of Serbia.
While more nationalistic parties as Democratic Party of Serbia of the former PM Vojislav Kostunica stress that Brussels agreement would represent the betrayal of Serbian national interests, Nikolic iterated that “as far as I am concerned, Serbia will never recognize Kosovo’s independence”.
In the course of present negotiations, work of PM Dacic, who is also the president of the Socialist party of Serbia, has been appreciated by EU due to the “constructive position” he is believed to hold. Nevertheless, in the last few weeks some speculations that the elections in Serbia would be called after the Brussels agreement appeared. According to some polls, the early elections would suit the Serbian Progressive Party most. This party, which is also the party of the deputy PM Vucic, already holds the majority in the Parliament and the Government.
European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin, stated earlier that he expects “historic agreement” in Brussels. MEP Doris Pack said that Serbia itself would be most responsible for receiving the date for the beginning of EU accession negotiations. “Once Belgrade interprets the signs of the time correctly and starts acting accordingly, it will get a date for EU accession talks. If they do not do this, it will not be us who are responsible for the delay, but only the government in Belgrade.” Peter Blomeyer, German ambassador to Kosovo, stressed that Serbia was to fulfill all the conditions in order to get the date and that there was no plan “B” in relation to dialogue with Pristina.
The president of Serbian Parliament Nebojsa Stefanovic while speaking about possible reactions in Serbia on expected agreement with Pristina announced that “no one will ever set embassies on fire”, alluding on the events from February in 2008 when, after the independence of Kosovo had been declared, the USA embassy was set on fire and a few more western envoys damaged.