LANY, Czech Republic (Reuters) - Serbian President Boris Tadic said on Monday he would accept an EU police mission for Kosovo, but drew the line on recognizing the independence of its former province.
Tadic said he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week that Belgrade would accept the presence of EULEX, the EU justice and police mission, in Kosovo rather than insist the United Nations administer the region until the resolution of its status.
"In our talks in Belgrade, Angela Merkel's view was that Serbia should secure functioning of the EULEX in all Kosovo and that Belgrade should return to talks with Pristina," he told reporters after meeting Czech President Vaclav Klaus at a chateau west of Prague.
"Both demands are totally acceptable for Serbia. We want dialogue as we have initiated it and we have insisted on it, and we did our best to bring EULEX to Kosovo and help it perform its mission in a way that would be neutral in relation with its (Kosovo's) status."
Serbia hopes to win EU candidacy soon after it arrested two remaining war crimes fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, and handed them over to the United Nations Yugoslavia tribunal for their roles in the 1992-5 Bosnian and 1991-95 Croatian wars.
But Merkel told Tadic at a meeting in Belgrade last week that Serbia should accept the presence of EULEX throughout Kosovo and abolish its parallel administrative structures for northern Kosovo.
Tadic said Serbia would not withdraw its representatives from northern Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO bombing ended a Serbian military crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians. But 60,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo rejected it and see Belgrade as their capital.
Unrest in Kosovo last month which killed one Kosovo policeman has hampered progress on any settlement for the region as well as Serbia's EU aspirations.
(Reporting by Roman Gazdik; editing by Elizabeth Piper)