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12 Mar, 2008 05:44

Serbia rules out embargo on Kosovo

For the first time, Serbia has ruled out economic sanctions against Kosovo in the wake of its independence. But Serbia’s Foreign Minister says that the EU must not be allowed to take over authority for Kosovo from the UN. Vuk Jeremic issued the warning to

“Serbia does not intend to impose an embargo and we have a clear policy of not resorting to the force of arms,” Vuk Jeremic stated.

But Serbia called on all members to reaffirm Security Council resolution 1244, which sets the United Nations mission in Kosovo as the legal authority.

“Serbia underlines its strong opposition to any transfer of competencies from the UN, from the only mandated civilian presence in Kosovo to any other body,” said Vuk Jeremic.

The Foreign Minister’s statement comes after members of the European Union’s rule of law mission, known as EULEX, were deployed to Kosovo to help the breakaway province build up its statehood.

Western countries have also created an international steering group to implement the Martti Ahtisaari plan not approved by the Security Council.

Russian UN Ambassador and current Council President Vitaly Churkin rejected any change of an international presence in Kosovo.

“We do not accept the legality of the European Mission and this international steering group. Especially we reject their assertions that their working towards replacing UNMIK (the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) which is wrapping up its operation,” Vitaly Churkin said.

Last month Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said resolution 1244 remains the legal framework in Kosovo. But the West insists Europe’s role in Kosovo is not outside the bounds of 1244.

“The European Union has always been a part of UNMIK. It is now a larger part of the international community on the ground than it was before,” stated John Sawers, UK Ambassador to the UN.

Dr. Ed Luck of the International Peace Academy raises concerns over Kosovar Albanians sustaining the country on their own.

“This has been a managed independence. It’s one that's been declared but not one that's been realised. Kosovo is not capable of protecting and defending itself in the military sense. It’s highly dependent on the international community for economic and financial support,” said Dr. Luck.

The Russian Ambassador says unless there is an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina and one within the Security Council, there will be no final settlement on this issue. And with the U.S. and many European countries already recognising Kosovo’s independence, a unified front in the near future seems unlikely.