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German ambassador's comments on Kosovo upset Serbian officials

German ambassador's comments on Kosovo upset Serbian officials

The Serbian government convened Wednesday to draft a response to recent remarks by the German ambassador about Kosovo that drew the ire of Serbian officials.
Ambassador Andreas Zobel on Tuesday urged Serbia to accept a U.N. plan that envisages independence for the province of Kosovo _ a proposal Belgrade repeatedly has rejected.
Serbs consider the southern province, now populated by an ethnic Albanian majority, their historic heartland.
However, "insisting on Kosovo as part of Serbia could destabilize Serbia," he said during a mostly academic debate hosted by a nongovernment organization, warning that it could open up debate on other territorial issues.
Zobel mentioned the semiautonomous province of Vojvodina, and Sandzak, another region in the south that is home to a sizable Muslim minority.
More than a dozen Serb officials and party leaders reacted angrily to Zobel's remarks.
His comments were "careless and undiplomatic," said Zarko Korac, head of the liberal Social Democrats. "Reopening of the issue of Serbia's borders is really not advisable at this moment."
The furor prompted the German Embassy to issue a statement saying that the ambassador's remarks were "misunderstood" and taken out of context.
Zobel "at no point" said Hungary would open the question of Vojvodina, the embassy said.
An adviser to Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, Vladeta Jankovic, said he hoped Zobel's remarks "do not represent the stand of the German government."
"Drawing parallels between Kosovo and Vojvodina cannot be justified," said Pastor Balint, a leader of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina.
The diplomat's remarks were "not so much result of ignorance but his intention ... to redraw borders" in the Balkans, said Ivica Dacic, president of the hard-line Socialists.


Updated : 2021-10-17 02:45 GMT+08:00