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Serbia’s biggest opposition party on Friday urged early elections after the government gave up on its bid to challenge Kosovo independence and instead submitted a softened resolution to a U.N. General Assembly session.

Under pressure from the EU, which it hopes to join, Serbia replaced a text calling Kosovo’s 2008 secession unacceptable. It instead acknowledged a World Court ruling calling Kosovo’s move legal and hailed EU efforts to facilitate dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. The resolution passed Thursday.

Serbia lost control over its former province after a 1998-99 war, but it has vowed never to accept Kosovo’s independence. EU leaders have urged Serbia to drop its bid to regain claim on Kosovo and focus on EU prospects instead.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Friday “warmly welcomed” the adoption of the resolution as “an important step forward for the future of both Serbia and Kosovo.”

“Now dialogue can start between Pristina and Belgrade in a positive manner,” she said.

Serbia’s pro-Western leaders have defended the new resolution as a result of a compromise that in way meant recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Opposition Serbian Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic said Friday that “the resolution is so sterile that anyone can vote for it.”

“Serbia has suffered another defeat” in its struggle to regain Kosovo, Nikolic added. “The best solution are early elections.”

Also Friday, former nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who advocates dropping Serbia’s EU bid over Kosovo, said the resolution has “inflicted great evil and shame.”

“The government is a silent accomplice in the creation of the independent state of Kosovo,” he declared.

Liberals hailed the agreement with the EU, saying it would bring Serbia closer to the 27-nation bloc. The Liberal Democratic Party urged a change in Serbia’s foreign policies and the ouster of Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, a tough advocate of Serbia’s claim on Kosovo.

Serbian media also speculated on Friday that President Boris Tadic could sack Jeremic.

Belgrade suffered a key blow in July when the Hague-based International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was legal. The country lost control over Kosovo in a 1998-99 war, after NATO bombed it to force end to a crackdown against Kosovo separatists.

AP September 10, 2010

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