BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro, May 1 (UPI) -- U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrook says Serbia must decide whether it wants to control Kosovo or become a member of the European Union.
Holbrook, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told Belgrade's private B92 radio-television Monday he cannot speak on behalf of the Bush administration but suggested Serbia should decide between Kosovo and the EU by the end of this year.
He said Kosovo should be independent of Belgrade, but it should guarantee absolute freedom for the Serb minority in 90 percent ethnic-Albanian Kosovo.
"I know that my friends in Serbia will not agree with me, but truth is that Serbia has lost Kosovo," said Holbrook. "It lost it due to the policy of (the late Serbian strongman) Slobodan Milosevic and it is the best for Serbia to recognize this reality," he said.
Holbrook said the presence of the U.S.-led NATO troops in Kosovo would be needed some time after Serbs and ethnic-Albanians reach an agreement on Kosovo's future status.
Serbs and ethnic-Albanians are to meet in a fourth round of talks in Vienna May 4-5.
Kosovo has been under U.N. administration and NATO protection since 1999, when NATO air attacks forced Milosevic's Serbian troops to withdraw from the province to stop human rights abuses against ethnic-Albanians.