Friday, November 30, 2007

Kosovo: US crucial for peace in the Balkans, says Serbian PM

Belgrade, 30 Nov. (AKI) – Peace and stability in the Balkans depends on the US and how it resolves the crisis in Serbia’s breakaway Kosovo province, Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Friday.

If the US respected UN Security Council resolution 1244, which treats Kosovo as a part of Serbia, and the UN Charter, which guarantees sovereignty of internationally recognized states and their borders, a compromise solution for Kosovo could be found, Kostunica said in a statement distributed to Serbian media.

But he warned if Washington compromised the resolution and the UN Charter, peace and stability in the entire Balkan region would be at risk.

“Peace and stability in the Balkans can’t be built by force, legal violations and lawlessness,” Kostunica said.

“The whole responsibility is obviously on America and her choosing between law and stability on one side and lawlessness and long-term instability on the other."

Kostunica was responding to threats from Washington that the US and most European Union countries would recognise Kosovo bypassing the UN Security Council after negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina failed this week.

Kosovo has been under UN control since 1999 when NATO bombing drew Serbian forces out of the province amid reports of gross human rights violations in suppressing ethnic Albanian rebellion.

Belgrade has offered ethnic Albanians broad autonomy, but ethnic Albanians, who outnumber the remaining Serbs in Kosovo by 17 to one, have insisted on independence.

Kosovo president Fatmir Seidiu said on Thursday ethnic Albanians would proclaim independence soon after 10 December, when the UN negotiating troika submits a report to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

“We will make these decisions in co-operation with our friends, the US and EU, immediately after constituting the new institutions, the government and parliament by 10 December,” Seidiu said.

He said the new parliament and government, based on November 17 election results, should be formed in the next ten days. The elections were won by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (DPK) and its leader Hasim Taci is likely to take over as new prime minister from Agim Ceku.

Taci, a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998, has said the proclamation of independence was his first major goal.

Belgrade and its ally Russia oppose independence and advocate continuation of talks until a negotiated solution is found.

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