Serbia in crisis as PM quits over Kosovo

Government collapses over declaration of independence and plunges country into new political crisis

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica dramatically resigned yesterday, saying his government had collapsed over the issue of Kosovo's declaration of independence last month. Plunging the country into a new political crisis, he said he would call national elections for 11 May.

Kostunica had previously conceded that his government was in 'deep crisis', accusing his coalition partners of giving up on defending Serbia's claim to Kosovo in favour of better ties with the West, which backs Kosovo's secession.

Serbia - with the strong support of Russia - has said it would never accept Kosovo's independence.

Kostunica had wanted his coalition allies to reject closer ties with the EU, many of whose members have recognised Kosovo. Serbia's President, Boris Tadic, opposed him, arguing Serbia can protect its claims to Kosovo only by joining the EU.

Kostunica, a westward-looking conservative, is a mainstream Serb nationalist who opposed the policies of the Milosevic era.

Announcing the dissolution of the government, Kostunica said that while part of the coalition wanted Serbia to join the EU only if the independence of Kosovo were revoked, most rejected membership being linked to the issue of Kosovo.

Contributor

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor

The GuardianTramp

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