Serbia admits it loses Kosovo sovereignty

Serbia admits it loses Kosovo sovereignty

BELGRADE - Reuters
Serbia had “practically” lost sovereignty over Kosovo, and autonomy for ethnic Serbs living there was the most it could hope to salvage, the country’s prime minister said Jan. 12.

In some of the boldest remarks by a Serbian leader on Kosovo since NATO bombs wrested the former province from Belgrade’s control in 1999, Ivica Dacic said Serbia could not afford to “keep its head in the sand.”

“Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo is practically non-existent,” he told Parliament as lawmakers debated a resolution calling for autonomy for tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs still living in mainly Albanian Kosovo. Dacic’s government, like all others since the 1998-99 Kosovo war, has ruled out ever recognizing Kosovo, but he has been signaling a more pragmatic approach as Serbia seeks to start talks on joining the European Union.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The EU, which made Serbia an official candidate for accession last year, is pressing Dacic’s government to loosen its control over north Kosovo and establish functional, neighborly relations with its former province, even without recognizing it as independent.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is chairing talks between Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart, former guerrilla commander Hashim Thaci, which resume on Jan. 17 in Brussels. Kosovo has ruled out any special status for the mainly Serb north, but has been unable to bring the region under its control.