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Serbian PM blocks EU pact over Kosovo, despite vote

Belgrade power broker Vojislav Kostunica is shaking the newly elected government over Kosovo.

'Never E.U.': Belgrade graffiti voices hard-liners' anti-Europe stand.

Srdjan Ilic/AP

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Serbia's most skillful politician rarely smiles, doesn't socialize, and believes religiously in a special destiny for Serbia. Now, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is shaking Serbia's newly elected government – over the destiny of Kosovo.

Days after 2.2 million Serbs voted to join Europe by reelecting President Boris Tadic, Mr. Kostunica is playing a high-stakes game that has helped paralyze the government. He has accused the European Union of "jeopardizing the territorial integrity … of Serbia" as it prepares to send a mission to Kosovo, and blocked Mr. Tadic from signing an EU premembership agreement – saying it is a European quid pro quo for Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

The result could be to boost the radical leadership Serbia just voted narrowly against, analysts say – and promote policies that Europeans worry could destabilize the Balkans. Before elections, some analysts felt the government might fall if pro-Russia radical Tomislav Nikolic was elected. Now the way may be paved anyway by a statesman who is showing a talent akin to that of former hard-line Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic – whom he helped oust – for writing Serbia's script from behind the scenes, analysts say.

Just last spring, Kostunica used his fabled power-broking skills to halt a parliamentary takeover by hard-line nationalists. Now, Kosovo Albanians say, he is frightening Europe in a bid to delay independence, something Serbia has done successfully for two years under Kostunica.


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