Serbians Protest Against Belgrade-Pristina Agreement

Created: 2013-04-23 18:13 EST

Up to 2,000 protesters marched in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on Monday calling for a referendum on the Belgrade-Pristina agreement.
The protest was organized by the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia.
Serbia agreed to cede its last remaining foothold in the country's former province of Kosovo on Friday, striking a deal to settle relations in exchange for talks on joining the European Union.
[Vojislav Kostnica, Leader of Democratic Party of Serbia]:
"Our people know all too well that NATO, the European Union and this government are in favor of an agreement, but the people are not in favour of an agreement."
Analysts say the government so far has the balance of public opinion in Serbia behind the Kosovo deal, under which it also agreed to end the country's ethnic partition between the Albanian majority and a pocket of about 50,000 Serbs.
[Vojislav Kostnica, Leader of Democratic Party of Serbia]:
"Dear friends, we have gathered here to raise our voice, to protest, but this will be no single rally, we have only just started."
If implemented, it could unlock Serbia's potential as the largest market in the former Yugoslavia.
However, the accord could yet unravel if the Serb minority in northern Kosovo resists.
The two-page plan initiated in Brussels outlines an end to the ethnic partition of Kosovo between its Albanian majority and a small, pocket of some 50,000 Serbs in the north.
In exchange for limited autonomous powers for the Serb north, Serbia agreed not to block Kosovo's path to eventual membership of the EU - a concession Kosovo hailed as recognition of independence.
Serbia says it will never recognize a territory it considers the cradle of the Serb nation as sovereign.
Friday's deal reflects a change in official policy and a realization in Serbia that it has been swimming against the tide at the expense of its economy.