Serbia leader urges Parliament to support Kosovo deal amid nationalist protest

Serbia's prime minister is urging Parliament to support an agreement normalizing relations with breakaway Kosovo, telling lawmakers that rejection of the EU-brokered deal would have turned the country into "Europe's North Korea."

Ivica Dacic said Friday that the agreement his government reached with Kosovo this month in Brussels was "the best Serbia could achieve at this moment."

Serbia's nationalists and hardliners in Kosovo's divided north have rejected the deal, which will give Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership authority over rebel Kosovo Serbs in exchange for their wide autonomy.

Serbia has rejected Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, but it must improve ties with the former province to advance its bid to join the European Union.

Several hundred nationalists rallied outside Parliament. The assembly is expected to overwhelmingly back the deal.