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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
Serbia sees hope for Kosovo deal
By Nick Hawton
BBC News, Belgrade

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic (file image)
Mr Jeremic says Serbia's goal remains EU membership
Serbia's foreign minister has said he is convinced a compromise solution can be found to decide the future of the disputed province of Kosovo.

In an exclusive BBC interview, Vuk Jeremic said Serbia was even ready to give up certain sovereign prerogatives.

The province of Kosovo, currently part of Serbia, has been governed by the UN since the war ended in 1999.

Mr Jeremic said it could be given "the widest possible autonomy in the world" to meet Albanian independence demands.

Kosovo's majority Albanian population wants independence from Serbia.

A new round of talks is due to take place between Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanian leadership after moves to introduce independence were blocked at the UN Security Council.

Major shift

Mr Jeremic acknowledged that there was still a large gap between the negotiating positions of Belgrade and of the Kosovo Albanian leadership but he said compromise was possible.

A new round of talks is expected to begin soon, with representatives of the United States, Russia and the European Union presiding.

Kosovo map

There is no great optimism that a solution will be found but Mr Jeremic said Serbia would be willing to consider even giving up some of its sovereign prerogatives.

"Like being able to have their own access to the World Bank and the IMF, like the international financial institutions, like some kind of representation abroad," he said.

"We are prepared to give up a lot of things, but they also need to be prepared to give up something."

He also acknowledged Russia's support for Serbia at the UN Security Council but insisted Serbia's long-term future lay in the EU.

"As a result of Russia's principled position - principled adherence to international law, we've got these negotiations, but there should be absolutely no doubt that Serbia's strategic orientation is membership in the EU," he said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the status quo in Kosovo cannot be maintained.

But it will take a major shift from either side for a solution to be found during the next round of negotiations.

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