Serbs and Russians oppose EU authority in Kosovo

Serbia and Russia have demanded that the U.N. administration in Kosovo halt the transfer of authority to the European Union.

Serbs and Russians oppose EU authority in Kosovo
But the United States and Britain, who were among the first countries to recognize Kosovo after its Feb. 17 declaration of independence, said debates over whether Kosovo should have seceded are over and it's now time to address the future of an independent Kosovo.

The EU is expected to take over U.N. administration of Kosovo and has sent a mission to implement Kosovo's pledges under a U.N.-drafted plan for supervised independence. The plan was never approved by the Security Council because of Russian opposition, but it is supported by Washington and key EU nations.

Kosovo came under U.N. and NATO administration after a NATO-led air war halted former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanians in 1999.

Serbia asked to address the Security Council Tuesday to discuss what its foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, called "the dangerous consequences of the unilateral, illegal and illegitimate declaration of independence."

He reiterated that Serbia "will employ all legal, diplomatic and political means at our disposal to continue asserting our core sovereign rights." But he again ruled out military action and an economic embargo, which he said would hurt Serbia's goal of a peaceful and prosperous Kosovo.

A draft statement circulated Tuesday by Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was almost immediately rejected by the U.S. and British envoys. It calls for the preservation of Serbia's territorial integrity and for a settlement acceptable to both parties.

"It's based on a premise which is now overtaken," Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers said of the Russian statement.

Sawers said the EU's role in Kosovo is not illegal. The 27-member bloc has always been part of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo and it is now a larger part than it was before, he said.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Serbia and Kosovo must talk to each other and "come to an understanding based on the new reality — they are new neighbors with a lot of common interests."

Agencies
Last Mod: 12 Mart 2008, 15:56
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