The Serbian government's precondition that Kosovo take part in international gatherings only under the designation of the UN civilian authority in Kosovo, UNMIK, got a major boost recently because of disunity within the EU on Kosovo.
A regional summit of Balkan countries was held on March 20
in the Brdo castle in central Slovenia. But Serbia refused to attend
because it objected to the presence of Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Serbian President Boris Tadic remained firm in his position to visiting Slovenian officials in Belgrade last week -- namely that he would go to Brdo only if Kosovo, which was also invited, is not identified as a state.
Tadic also stressed during meetings that Serbia does not need to be told what to do by any foreign officials. "We know very well what we must do," he said.
Pristina was similarly firm that it would go to Brdo only if identified as a state. Slovenia, which recognizes Kosovo's independence, proposed that participants be identified only by their first and last names, with no mention of which country someone represents.
But that compromise was rejected as unacceptable by Belgrade and its delegation stayed home.
The Kosovo recognition question isn't going away any time soon. Spain, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency and has not recognized Kosovo, promised Serbia that there would be no problem for Belgrade to attend an upcoming regional gathering that the Spanish Presidency is organizing in Sarajevo.
But Spain's ambassador to Serbia said that Kosovo can come only if it is represented as UNMIK.
The differences between the Slovenian and Spanish positions reflect divisions within the EU between the 22 member countries that recognize Kosovo and the five that do not -- largely because of concerns that such recognition could encourage ethnic minorities within their own countries.
Serbian parliament member Vesna Pesic told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that Spain organized the Sarajevo meeting for its own interests. She added that it is not clear whether Belgrade will remain tough or gradually start normalizing its relations with its neighbors, including Kosovo.
Serbia is now waiting for the International Court of Justice in The Hague to act later this year on Belgrade's request for a ruling on Kosovo's independence.
Serbia also wants a green light for a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU and for Brussels to consider its request for membership.
But by boycotting both the Brdo meeting and the recent inauguration of Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Serbia seems to have forgotten that the EU expects it to improve its cooperation with its neighbors before it gets any serious consideration for EU membership.
-- Nedim Dervisbegovic