Serbia misses Slovenia's Balkans meeting over Kosovo

Serbian President Tadic will miss a regional conference in Slovenia, his office said.

Serbia misses Slovenia's Balkans meeting over Kosovo

Serbian President Boris Tadic will miss a regional conference in Slovenia, his office said on Friday, highlighting deep divisions among Balkan states that could complicate their plans to join the European Union.

Slovenia, the only ex-Yugoslav republic that is already an EU member, has organised Saturday's conference along with Croatia to boost cooperation and help mend ties among the Balkan states that all want to join the 27-nation bloc.

Kosovo's Albanian majority backed by the Western countries declared independence in 2008 nine years after Serbia moved ethnic cleansing in a 1998-1999 war. Nato stopped the Serbian forces in a 78-day bombing.

But Serbia, the region's biggest country, said it would not take part unless its former province of Kosovo attends as a "United Nations run-protectorate", rather than as an independent state.

Slovenia said earlier in the day that the conference would proceed in any case after weeks of diplomacy aimed at bringing all of the region's leaders together.

Serbia's pro-Western government applied for EU membership in December, but its progress depends on the arrest of remaining war crimes fugitives and taking a more constructive stance on Kosovo.

Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by 62 countries from mostly European Union and also Muslim countries around world such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

Serb forces killed an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 civilians in Kosovo in 1998-99, the great majority Albanians.

Shortly after the bombing began, more than 800,000 Albanians fled or were driven from their homes.

Earlier this month Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said that if forced to choose between EU and Kosovo, Serbia would choose the latter.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mart 2010, 12:25
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