Serbia holds out chance of U.N. seat for Kosovo

Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:06pm EST
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By Matt Robinson

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia held out the chance of a seat at the United Nations for Kosovo on Tuesday, in what would mark a major concession to its former province as Belgrade tries to clear a path to joining the European Union.

Majority Albanian Kosovo declared independence in 2008, almost a decade after a NATO air war wrested control of the territory from Serbia, which rejected the secession and retains control over a Serb-populated pocket of northern Kosovo.

The EU is mediating talks aimed at normalizing ties and loosening Serbia's grip on the north.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic called on Tuesday for a "comprehensive" settlement after Kosovo's government said its ultimate aim was to secure recognition of statehood by the United Nations.

"We can agree on everything," Dacic told reporters in comments carried by the state news agency, Tanjug. "We are seeking a comprehensive settlement, but for that to happen something has to be given."

"They (Kosovo) are pressuring us through the European Union, and we're not letting them into the United Nations. Are we supposed to go on sparring like that for years?" he said.

Dacic has a reputation for speaking off the cuff, particularly on Kosovo, and analysts say his comments do not always reflect the official policy of the coalition government.

Yet his remarks followed the adoption of a resolution by Serbian lawmakers on Sunday that implicitly offered to recognize the authority of the Kosovo government over the north in exchange for broad autonomy for tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs living there.   Continued...