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Vucic Tells Reuters Serbians Won't Support 'Full Recognition' Of Kosovo

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic

Serbs are unlikely to support full recognition of Kosovo's independence in exchange for European Union membership, Serbia’s president told Reuters on February 16.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on a visit to Pristina earlier this week said that "acceptance of Kosovo's independence" is a condition Serbia must meet if it hopes to join the EU.

While 116 nations have recognized Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia ten years go, Belgrade still regards the former Serbian province as part of Serbia.

Serbian leaders have been seeking a compromise that stops short of full recognition. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told Reuters in an interview that any decision would have to be put before Serbian voters, many of whom consider Kosovo the cradle of their Orthodox Christian faith.

“The people would decide,” Vucic said, but he said he doubts voters would approve full recognition of their Balkan neighbor.

“We have to look at today’s reality and to understand relations in the world and relations in Kosovo and to understand that [Kosovo] is not ours as we taught ourselves, but neither is it theirs as they try to show it,” Vucic told Reuters.

“If there is no compromise we will have a frozen conflict for decades. We should not leave that to our children to deal with.”

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 during the Balkans war and declared independence in 2008.

Vucic told Reuters he believes a compromise on Kosovo's sovereignty is possible, but he said it would require “political will in Brussels to reach a compromise, rather than continuing to put pressure on Serbia.”

Quoting the Serbian writer Borislav Pekic, Vucic said Serbia should look to the future: “We should not kiss the ground our ancestors walked on, but rather the ground our children will walk on.”

Based on reporting by Reuters