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Serbia starts drive to contest Kosovo independence
July 28, 2010 / 4:23 PM / 7 years ago

Serbia starts drive to contest Kosovo independence

BELGRADE/PRISTINA (Reuters) - Serbia launched a diplomatic offensive on Wednesday to contest Kosovo’s independence, asking the United Nations General Assembly to decide about the future of its former southern province.

<p>Florim Behluli, a 41-year-old Albanian born Dutch man, waves Kosovo and Albania flags before The International Court of Justice ruling at the Peace Palace in The Hague July 22, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen</p>

The move follows a World Court ruling last week that Kosovo’s 2008 secession from Serbia did not violate international law.

In a draft resolution the Serbian government acknowledged the court’s ruling but said that “unilateral secession cannot be an acceptable way of resolving territorial issues.”

“(The government) calls all the parties involved to find a mutually accepted solution ... through peaceful dialogue in the interest of peace, security and cooperation in the region,” the draft said.

Last week the Serbian government announced it would send envoys to 55 nations to stop more countries recognizing Kosovo. Ambassadors in another 40 capitals will do the same.

In the resolution, the Serbian government asked the U.N. General Assembly to put an item on “further activities after the adoption of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice” on the agenda of its 66th session.

Also on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic flew to the United States to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

However, Kosovo said it would renew its campaign to lobby for recognition from more countries than the present 69 and help it to secure membership of the United Nations.

Kosovo deputy foreign Minister Vlora Citaku said Serbia should let go of “the mentality of the past and ... recognize the new situation.”

“We repeat our offer to Serbia about cooperation and dialogue on issues of mutual interest, but Serbia should know that the independence and territorial integrity are untouchable,” she told Reuters.

Serbia could risk progress toward its goal of joining the European Union if it maintains its defiance on Kosovo, blocking Pristina’s membership in regional bodies and stopping goods and people with Kosovo documents from entering its territory.

Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 when NATO bombed it to halt a bloody crackdown on Albanians in a two-year war.

After nine years as international protectorate, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, backed by the United States and most EU member states, declared independence in 2008, but Serbia vowed never to accept it.

Editing by David Stamp

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