25 March 2006

Prime Minister urges respect for Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo



Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)

Date: 07 Feb 2006


Belgrade_(dpa) _ Kosovo's future status must be resolved while respecting Serbia's sovereignty, Serbia's prime minister said on Tuesday, in response to hints by a British official that the breakaway province will gain independence in 2006, local media reported.


Serbia's position is that any attempt to impose any solution on a democratic country represents a breach of the fundamental principles of international law, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told John Sawers, an official from the British Foreign Office, a press release from the government said.


Sawers said on Tuesday in Belgrade that the Contact Group of big powers, which includes the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia and Italy, had decided last week that the future status of Kosovo must be acceptable to the majority of its inhabitants.


"Of course, the great majority in Kosovo want independence, and that is one option; some would say, the only option," the Beta news agency cited him as saying.


Media reports that Sawers on Monday told Kosovo Serbs that the province would be independent has caused a stir both in Belgrade and among Serbs in the province.


Though formally still a province of Serbia, Kosovo has been administered by the UN since mid-1999, when a NATO military intervention ousted Serbian forces accused of atrocities against civilians while fighting ethnic Albanian insurgents.


Ethnic Albanians, by far the majority in Kosovo, are adamant that full independence is the only option they will accept for the province.


Serbia and Kosovo Serbs, on the other hand, considering the province the cradle of Serbian spirituality, insist that it must remain under Serbia's sovereignty and be offered far-reaching autonomy.


UN-mediated talks on the future status of Kosovo began last November, while the first direct meeting between Belgrade and Pristina delegations is due in February.