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19 Feb, 2008 04:08

Serbia severs ties with Kosovo supporters

Serbia has recalled its ambassadors to the United States, France and Turkey after these countries recognised the statehood of Kosovo. Several other EU member states have pledged their support to the province. In response, Serbia is threatening to downgrad

Germany, Britain and France were the first to back Kosovo's independence saying it's a 'unique case'. Other member states led by Spain made clear their legal concerns.

The European Union has already agreed to send about 2,000 police, justice and civil administration officials to Kosovo to help develop the province's institutions.

EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, stressed the bloc remains committed to preserving stability in the Balkans.

Serb reaction

Some acts of violence against the UN were reported in Kosovo after Sunday's declaration. Thousands have held an anti-independence rally in the town of Mitrovica – a Serbian enclave in the north of the breakaway province.

There has also been a protest rally in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

Three explosions have been reported in Kosovo's Serbian-controlled region. A suspected hand grenade was thrown at a UN court in north Mitrovica and another blast was reported near the offices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Meanwhile, Serbia's government in Belgrade made it clear it would never accept Kosovo's statehood.

In his speech at the open UN Security Council session in New York, Serbia's President Boris Tadic asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take measures and to denounce Kosovo's unilateral move.

“The government of Serbia and the National Assembly of Serbia have declared the decision of Pristina authorities null and void.  We’re taking all diplomatic measures to prevent the secession of a part of our territory. This arbitrary decision represents a precedent which will cause irreparable damage to the international order.

The unilateral and illegal declaration of independence runs beyond the first principle of the charter of the United Nations, which protects the sovereignty of all member states. My country requests the Security Council to take effective measures in order to ensure that all the provisions of the UN charter and the UN SC resolution 1244 are respected,” Tadic said.

Emergency UN Security Council session

The Monday emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the issue has ended with no agreement reached. The members of the Council remain divided over Kosovo's recent declaration of independence.

Russia, backed by China, has called on the UN to denounce the region's move towards independence.  
Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, says Moscow won't recognise the new state, and continues to respect Serbia's borders.

“The February 17 declaration of the Serbian province of Kosovo’s local assembly is a blatant breach of the norms and principles of international law, above all of the UN charter, and undermines the foundations of the international relations system.

This illegal act is an open violation of the republic of Serbia’s sovereignty. The unilateral declaration of independence and its recognition are incompatible with the revisions of housing key final acts, which clearly specify the principles of inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of states which allow changes to state borders only in accordance with international law by peaceful means and agreement,” Churkin said.

Meanwhile following the Security Council meeting, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said the decision to recognise the state is the prerogative of each country, but tensions should not be allowed to escalate in the region.

“I know that the independence of Kosovo has been recognised by a number of countries and I’d like to remind you that the recognition of states is for the states, and not for the UN secretariat,” Ban Ki-moon said.

Celebration in Pristina

Amid all the controversy surrounding its declaration of independence, Kosovo continues to celebrate.

The province’s capital, Pristina, is alive with crowds dancing in the street jubilantly marking its first day of statehood.

A newly designed flag has already been flown from the city’s homes and offices.