February 14, 2008 / 4:08 PM / 12 years ago

Kostunica tells Serbia: brace for Kosovo secession

BELGRADE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica went on national television on Thursday to tell Serbia to brace for the imminent secession of Kosovo province, which their government would never accept.

The coalition had adopted a document to annul in advance "an event which will become reality in a few days, about illegal violence and an act of declaring independence of Kosovo", Kostunica said.

His statement was his most open acknowledgement yet that Serbia cannot now prevent Kosovo’s Albanian majority from proclaiming independence on Sunday, with the promise of Western recognition.

"This decision confirms full national unity ... in contrast to all those countries which have been ready to put in question the core principles of the entire world and international law," Kostunica said.

"This is happening for the first time ever and this is a gross violation of international law," he added.

"Serbia has the right...and Serbia will continue, through a series of concrete steps, to ... prove that Kosovo is part of Serbia," he told a news conference.

Radical Party deputy leader Tomislav Nikolic called on Kostunica and President Boris Tadic to organise a major protest rally against Kosovo independence in the capital.

"If Sunday is a day of declaration of Kosovo’s independence, the rally has to be held next week," he said.

He said he expected a million people to turn out.

Kostunica said Serbia had demanded an emergency U.N. Security Council session, and would ask Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to "take all steps and prevent the violation of the U.N. Charter, the Helsinki Act and Resolution 1244"

The resolution was adopted in the summer of 1999 when NATO troops deployed into Kosovo after the Western alliance bombed Serbia to compel it to withdraw forces to end the killing and ethnic-cleansing of Albanians in a counter-insurgency war.

Nikolic, who heads Serbia’s biggest party, said he would support the government’s measures if they clearly defend sovereignty and integrity of Serbia.

He said Serbia should invalidate Kosovo passports, embargo all trade, and reduce to a minimum relations with any state which recongises Kosovo, including European Union states. (Reporting by Gordana Filipovic; Writing by Douglas Hamilton)

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