Serbia boycots summit with Obama over Kosovo
May 24, 2011, 16:16 GMT
Belgrade/Bratislava/Warsaw - Serbian President Boris Tadic will boycott a regional conference with US President Barack Obama this week because Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo has been invited, officials said Tuesday.
The Central and Southeastern European summit in Warsaw on Friday and Saturday was expected to host more than a dozen heads of state or government, including Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga.
Serbia refuses to recognize its former province and routinely boycotts high-level conferences at which Kosovo is represented. This time, however, Tadic will also miss out on a rare opportunity for a one-on-one meeting with Obama.
'President of Serbia Boris Tadic will not attend the Warsaw summit because Kosovo is represented symmetrically with other participants,' a spokeswoman for Tadic's cabinet said.
Slovakia and Romania are among the four European Union countries that have also been invited to take part in the summit.
Slovakia said that, though the presence of Kosovo was a 'diplomatic obstacle,' a diplomatic way out was found, allowing President Ivan Gasparovic to take part.
Gasparovic will attend without bringing into doubt Slovakia's rejection of Kosovo's independence, spokesman Marek Trubac was quoted as saying by the state news agency TASR.
An adviser of the Polish president, Roman Kuzniar, said earlier Thursday that Slovakia and Romania may also skip the summit because of Kosovo, but underlined that since Poland had recognized the former Serbian province, 'there is no reason not to invite' it.
It was not immediately clear whether the same formula in the protocol that allowed Slovakia to attend the summit may apply to Romania.
While insisting that it will never recognize Kosovo, Serbia has bowed to Western pressure and is engaged in EU-sponsored talks aimed at resolving real-life problems stemming from the secession.
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