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Serbia Won’t Let Kosovo Join UN Despite Strong Western Pressure

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- There is no chance that Serbia will let Kosovo join the United Nations despite intense pressure from the US and European nations, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.

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Serbia still regards its former province, which declared independence in 2008 almost a decade after the two sides fought a war on mostly ethnic lines, as its territory. Belgrade relies on veto-wielding UN members China and Russia to oppose Kosovo receiving international recognition.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, Vucic said that even if Serbia doesn’t fully recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty, “you’d never be able to kick Pristina out of the UN” once it gains a seat.

“There’s no chance that we let Kosovo into the United Nations,” Vucic, who has refused to sever ties with Russia or join western sanctions intended to punish President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine, said in an interview with Serbian Pink TV.

Serbia is bracing for economic fallout because of its defiance after years of EU-mediated talks that have failed to break the deadlock over Kosovo, Vucic said. Brussels is demanding both sides normalize ties if they want to join the bloc, but the Serbian leader has refused to budge.

Last week, he met with Balkan envoys representing the EU, France and Germany as part of the diplomatic efforts. He said he turned down a proposal for a deal that would enable Kosovo join the UN.

The intensifying pressure for Serbia to change its stance is complicating the country’s position regarding energy security -- for which it depends largely on Russian gas exporter Gazprom -- and procuring food and other imports, Vucic said.

He has instead looked elsewhere for economic support, arranging a $1 billion bilateral loan from the United Arab Emirates last week and exploring a possible deal with the IMF to bolster Serbia’s finances.

Rejecting proposals from the EU, which is by far Serbia’s biggest trading partner, “comes at a price,” he said.

“Big and fierce pressures will continue,” Vucic said. “We have to take care how we’re going to live.”

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