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15 Feb, 2008 23:11

UN fails to support Serbia in Kosovo row

Serbia has told the UN Security Council it will use all economic, diplomatic and political means to stop Kosovo becoming independent, though it’s ruled out the use of force. The province is threatening to declare unilateral sovereignty by Monday.

However, at a news conference held in Pristina on Friday, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci refused to specify the date.

Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry has issued a statement saying Russia will change its policy towards Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if Kosovo makes a unilateral declaration of independence.

Russia also warned there could be an increase in inter-ethic violence and extremism if Kosovo is allowed to go it alone.

Serbian Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic, urged an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday to continue the search for a peaceful solution on Kosovo.

At the closed door session he told delegates negotiations were not yet exhausted.

Both Russia and Serbia said any move towards independence should be declared null and void by the UN.

“Ethnically-motivated seceding from internationally recognised states is not acceptable under international law. If this is allowed to happen this time around, we are going to see a lot of problems around the world happening along the same lines. If this takes place, Serbia is not going to tolerate this, Serbia is not going to accept it. For us this will be null and void,” said Serbia’s Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic, in an interview to RT.

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said supporters of independence for Kosovo were in the minority at the latest Security Council session on Thursday.

“We have some members of the Council who are presuming a certain policy vis-à-vis Kosovo, the U.S. and some members of the European Union. But among the other members of the Security Council they don’t have any support at all,” he said.

Mikhail Kamynin, a spokesperson for Russia's Foreign Ministry, says UN Security Council members are increasingly concerned about the precedent Kosovan independence could set.

“The discussion on the Kosovo issue that Russia and Serbia initiated in the Security Council demonstrated that we were right and that vast majority of Security Council members shared our views. The discussion also demonstrated that to most of the Security Council members, this issue goes beyond the limits of just that one region. That is why some members said they were concerned with the negative effects that a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo may have on other parts of the world”.

Charles Kupchan from the Council on Foreign Relations says the independence of Kosovo can exacerbate an already tense environment:
“Some believe that the Serbs there will secede from Kosovo. There is already talk of creating a separate assembly for that part of Kosovo. And then in effect you could have a double secession. Kosovo leaves Serbia, Northern Kosovo leaves an independent Kosovo. If that happens, then I think we will see a widening circle of instability and perhaps more widespread violence”.

Still, despite the last minute effort by Belgrade, the United States backing Pristina, didn't waive from their position.

“We believe that the [UN envoy Martti] Ahtisaari plan, leading to supervised independence, is the appropriate way to proceed to ensure the well-being and future of both Kosovars and Serbs and to see both Kosovo and Serbia on the path to Euro-Atlantic institutions,” believes Alejandro D. Wolff, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.