Aleksandar Vucic: Kosovo Serbs 'should accept deal'

Serbian Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic addresses a meeting in Mitrovica. 12 May 2013 Aleksandar Vucic tried to reassure those attending the meeting in Mitrovica

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One of Serbia's most senior officials has visited northern Kosovo to try to persuade ethnic Serbs there to accept an EU-brokered agreement.

Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic admitted that the amount of autonomy given to them under the accord was not ideal.

Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008 but Kosovan Serbs have refused to recognise the government.

The deal is intended to normalise relations between the governments in Belgrade and Pristina.

Mr Vucic held talks in Mitrovica with officials of the four municipalities in northern Kosovo.

"I'm not saying that the agreement is good, but at this stage we could not get anything better," he said at the meeting, quoted by AFP news agency.

"I could list many reasons to oppose the agreement but there is an important point in its favour. It is the only way for Serbia to survive, to exist and remain united in the search for a path to a better future."

The BBC's Guy De Launey in Kosovo says local people are unhappy with the deal and unconvinced by Mr Vucic.

The landmark deal was struck last month in Brussels.

It does not mean Serbia recognises Kosovo as an independent state. However, it concedes that Pristina has legal authority over the whole territory.

The agreement gives Kosovo's Serbs their own police and justice representatives within the Kosovan system.

It also makes it clear that some details have yet to be finalised.

Many countries recognise Kosovo as independent but Serbia is among those - including Russia and China - who do not.

Five of the 27 EU countries do not recognise Kosovo: Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus.

Some 40,000 ethnic Serbs live in northern Kosovo.

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