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Giving up Kosovo will not accelerate Serbia's EU path: Tadic

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(BELGRADE) - Serbian President Boris Tadic said that giving up Belgrade's interests in Kosovo would not accelerate his country's bid to get closer to the European Union, a local daily reported Sunday.

"To think that Serbia could dramatically accelerate its process of approaching EU by giving up its interests in Kosovo is an illusion," the Politika daily quoted Tadic as saying on Saturday to a group of students in southern Serbia.

"Serbia should preserve its identity in Kosovo and get what it should as a state, and that is to keep its integrity," he said.

Belgrade does not accept Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence and still considers the territory as its southern province.

Around 40,000 ethnic Serbs live in northern Kosovo and another 80,000 live in other enclaves, representing a little over five percent of the overall Kosovo population of some two million.

Tadic also rejected the idea of implementing a plan put forward by former UN special envoy for Kosovo, Marti Ahtisaari.

That plan, launched in 2007 but never formally adopted by the UN Security Council, sets out Kosovo's independence under international surveillance and far-reaching autonomy for ethnic Serbs.

"I am deeply convinced that implementation of the Ahtissari plan would lead in two or three decades to the complete disappearance of the Serb people in Kosovo," he stressed.

The Serbian leader added that he would continue to "search for a solution that assures a European future and economic prosperity while protecting legitimate state interests in Kosovo from which Serbia cannot and should not give up."

Improvement of ties between Belgrade and Pristina, notably the relaunch of the EU-mediated dialogue that opened in March, is a condition for Serbia to obtain the bloc's candidate status in December.

The ongoing crisis in northern Kosovo has caused the suspension of those talks.

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