Serbia has hinted that it is ready to loosen its grip on a minority Serb region of neighbouring Kosovo. It could be a significant move in its drive to join the EU.
Belgrade does not recognise Kosovo’s declared independence. But the Prime Minister Ivica Dacic now says the Serb minority should be governed not by Serbia directly, but by its own autonomous institutions in Kosovo.
“This is the first time we are suggesting the existence of the Serb community (in Kosovo) and its autonomy, and the existence of the Pristina authorities of which, at the end of the day, that autonomy is part. If this is not a concession, then I don’t know what is,” he said.
Belgrade has retained effective control over up to 50,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo. It lost control over the rest of the territory in 1999.
The coalition government wants to open accession talks with the EU in the coming months. The normalisation of relations between Pristina and Belgrade, who are taking part in EU-mediated talks, is one of the conditions imposed by Brussels.