Parties react to president's announced "Kosovo plan"

BELGRADE -- Serbia will next year, "along with implementing the Brussels agreement," present its proposal for Kosovo's final status, a Belgrade daily writes.

As announced by President Tomislav Nikolic, his "new plan" will arrive soon, and will then be "corrected and analyzed" by the government and the assembly.

Ruling SNS party official and head of the Committee on Kosovo and Metohija in the Serbian assembly Milovan Drecun told the Vecernje Novosti newspaper that the president "wishes to move toward events, so they don't catch us unprepared once again."

"In previous years Serbia attempted only to mitigate the damage when a process had already completed. Nikolic's proposal now is to show the initiative ahead of time, to 'lead the game' and put our idea for the status of Kosovo and Metohija on the table.We will show that it is our territory that we are not giving up. On the other hand, we continue to implement the Brussels agreement," said Drecun.

The position of the Socialists (SPS) - a junior partner in the ruling coalition - is that the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence can never be legal and accepted, SPS presidency member Djordje Milicevic said.

"All the talks we are conducting are status-neutral, we have not shown with a single step that there is movement toward recognizing (Kosovo). It is very important to continue the dialogue, implement agreements, and form as soon as possible the community of Serb municipalities. We will speak about the platform once it appears, because it requires a wider consensus," he was quoted as saying.

Opposition Democratic Party (DS) vice-president and MP Borko Stefanovic says that Nikolic "wishes to exempt himself from those who are expected to recognize Kosovo," and adds:

"He wants to clearly distance himself from Vucic and the government, by offering yet another paper that has no basis in reality. He could propose a partition of Kosovo or an international conference to determine its status, and both are completely unachievable. Not only is he trying to demonstrate his differences related to the government, but he also has extra free time."

Opposition SDS party leader and former president Boris Tadic told the daily that Nikolic was misleading the public "by implying that Brussels will certainly demand recognition of Kosovo as a condition for Serbia's membership in the EU."

"As long as there is one EU member-state that has not recognized Kosovo, the EU's official position cannot be to demand that (Serbia) recognizes Kosovo. President Nikolic is doing this either because he does not understand the principles of international politics, or because he wishes to make a more active comeback to the political life by abusing the Kosovo issue. In that way he is making the government's participation in the process of EU integrations difficult, jeopardizes our relationship with the EU, and hampers the continuation of membership negotiations," said Tadic.

Opposition NS party president Zoran Zivkovic also commented on his subject to say that Nikolic's announcement was "part of his showdown with Vucic":

"Their interests are diverging, and as soon as there is conflict the story about Kosovo is brought up. Of course there is nothing Serbia can do. With the Brussels agreement Vucic's administration recognized Kosovo de facto and de jure."

The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), which is not represented in this parliament, believes that Nikolic's announcement is "extremely hypocritical."

"In 2008 he swore he would not rest until Kosovo was back in Serbia's fold. Four years later, he set up a classic border between central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija," the DSS board in Kosovo said in a statement.