As the UN Security Council debates whether or not to approve a form of independence for Kosovo, the Serbian President, Boris Tadic, has given an exclusive interview to the BBC.
The BBC's Nick Hawton asked him about Serbia's attitude to the independence proposals of UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, relations with the EU and the continuing hunt for war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic.
President Tadic leads the main pro-Western reformist party
Q: What will Serbia do if Kosovo does become independent?
We are doing everything that is in our power to avoid this. But if it is going to become independent, we'll do everything in our power, in terms of diplomacy, political and legal efforts to return Kosovo back to Serbia. I think the Martti Ahtisaari plan is not realistic and not sustainable. I think we have to negotiate about the future status of Kosovo-Metohija.
Q: But we've had negotiations for a year in Vienna and there was no agreement. What's the point of further talks?
We didn't have real negotiations about the future status of Kosovo. The first framework which was defined by the Contact Group, at the beginning, wasn't flexible enough for real negotiations. And for that reason we have Martti Ahtisaari's proposal, which is not sustainable. And for that reason I hope that we are now going to have real and direct negotiations between Albanians and Serbs.
Q: Do you believe there is any time limit on when the final status of Kosovo has to be agreed upon?
I don't think it's useful for any of us to have artificial time limits. Serbia is not going to try to delay negotiations. This is not about delaying negotiations. This is about finding a realistic and sustainable solution for Kosovo-Metohija. Only a sustainable solution is going to be useful for all of us, for Serbs, for Albanians and for the European Union.
Q: A lot of the Serbian government's hopes lie with Russia. How hopeful are you that Russia will wield its veto in the UN and block Kosovo independence?
I don't talk with Russian officials about the veto anymore. And I'd like to say that I appreciate very much Russia's position right now about Kosovo-Metohija. But we know very well that Russians are caring about their own interests. The interests of Serbia today are not their priority.
Q: Is there a danger perhaps that as Serbia becomes closer to Russia, Serbia moves away from the European Union?
I'm not sure. Serbia has to have good relations with the EU and this is our final home. I hope in the next few years, we will become a member state. At the same time we have strategic interests with the US and Russia. We are in the middle of South-East Europe and have our own interests, but no doubt at the end of the day we're going to be a member state of the EU.
Q: One key issue relating to the EU is the issue of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general indicted by The Hague for genocide. Talks have stalled with the EU because he's not been arrested. Why has Ratko Mladic not been arrested?
First of all I have to say we're facing real difficulties in finding all those indicted here in Serbia and the region. Second, in the past seven years we've co-operated with the Hague Tribunal in a very efficient way. And we have goodwill to finalise this co-operation, in the next few days, weeks, months but, from time to time, we're faced with real technical difficulties.
Boris Tadic (left) gave an exclusive interview to the BBC's Nick Hawton
Q: Technical difficulties? What technical difficulties?
The ministry of interior. This is not very easy, to find all the indicted. Even though the international perception is that this is a very easy process, but this is not the case.
Q: So the ministry of interior here in Serbia is actually blocking the arrest of Ratko Mladic?
No, I am not going to say this. I think this ministry is facing real difficulties and I hope after forming a government, we're going to increase our activities in that sense. And I'm sure we're going to finalise this process as soon as possible.
Q: It's been three months since the general election and still no government. How important is it that Serbia does have a government?
Extremely important - not only because of finding Ratko Mladic and finalising co-operation with The Hague, but also because of the continuing process of negotiations with the EU over a Stabilisation and Association Agreement and also making reforms in our country, which is extremely important for living standards for our citizens.
Q: And finally, what is your priority as the Serbian president?
My priority is to bring Serbia into the EU as soon as possible. This is - realistic thinking - possible after 2012 and this is my main goal.