Don't turn Kosovo talks into blackmail says Serbian official

25th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic warned Thursday that the EU-backed talks between Pristina and Belgrade should not be used to blackmail Serbia.

His comments came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said warned Serbia that it must improve its ties with Kosovo and get results in the talks to be eligible for EU candidacy status this year.

"If you organise the dialogue in an unbalanced way where Belgrade must accept all of Pristina's demands, it is no longer a dialogue, it is blackmail," Djelic, who is in charge of European integration, was quoted as saying by Beta news agency.

"We were invited to resume the dialogue but we were the ones that initiated it, what is important it that it doesn't turn into a tool for blackmail," he added.

Tuesday, Merkel also said Belgrade must dismantle its parallel structures in northern Kosovo if it wants to become a candidate for European Union membership this year.

Djelic slammed that demand as anti-democratic".

"We have explained to the Germans that these institutions in question were elected by the citizens, that they passed the democratic test and have democratic legitimacy," he noted.

The majority-Serb population of northern Kosovo does not recognise the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina and has systematically boycotted elections organised by them while voting in parallel Serb municipal polls.

Kosovo's independence from Serbia, unilaterally proclaimed in 2008, has been recognised by 80 countries including the United States and a majority of EU members.

Belgrade still considers the territory as a breakaway province.

© 2011 AFP

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