(ANSAmed) – BELGRADE/PRISHTINA, JANUARY 24 – Serbia’s deputy minister for Kosovo affairs, Oliver Ivanovic, is today meeting with the town council heads of the main municipalities in the Serb-majority north in the latest attempt to convince them not to hold the referendum scheduled for February 14-15, in which the population will be casting votes on the legitimacy or otherwise of the Kosovo government structures and the ethnic Albanian leadership of Pristina.

After the last few days, in which the Serbs of the north hinted at a possible postponement for the referendum, yesterday they once again said that it would instead go forward and that nothing has happened which would justify a postponement. Serbian president Boris Tadic then took an even harsher position, saying that a referendum was not needed and that it was not in the interest of Serbians. Tadic is concerned that the referendum – which it is assumed will be against Pristina – will lead to further tension and instability a few weeks before the decision that the European Council meeting will be making in early March on whether or not to grant Serbia the status of EU membership candidate. Brussels was very clear in December, when it postponed the decision until March: a positive opinion would only be forthcoming if progress is seen in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, especially on the issue of Kosovo’s participation in international and regional meetings. ”I will be informing them of the position taken by the (Serbian) president and government, underscoring that although they have the right to hold a referendum, the initiative could go against the interests of Serbia and its government,” said Ivanovic before today’s meeting in northern Kosovo with the mayors of Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Leposavic and the Serbian part of Kosovska Mitrovica. (ANSAmed).

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