Serbia is urging the United Nations to reject any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders and instead to support continued negotiations on the future status of the breakaway province. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
, told the Security Council that Belgrade would never recognize Kosovo's independence. He said Serbia would use all legal arguments and diplomacy to protect its territorial integrity and said it would not resort to violence and war. But he also threatened unspecified actions should the breakaway province unilaterally declare independence soon, as many expect. President Tadic is heard here through a translator:
"If any violence were to break out in Kosovo, and if KFOR [the NATO-led Kosovo force] could not react and protect the Serbs in an appropriate way, we are ready, and I underline with the agreement of competent international institutions and exactly in respect for international law, to help and provide protection to the threatened population," he said.
Albanian separatist leaders are expected to declare the unilateral independence of the U.N.-administered Kosovo province in the coming weeks, following the collapse of international attempts to reach a negotiated deal with Serbia. The United States and several European countries are likely to approve the move, but Serbia and its ally Russia, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, have vowed to oppose it.
Kosovo's new prime minister, Hashim Thaci, also addressed the Council. He told reporters after the closed session that Pristina would decide soon about declaring independence.
But Russia's U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, warned that an independent Kosovo would never become a member of the United Nations. "Going down the way of unilateral moves, Kosovo is not going to join the ranks of fully recognized members of the international community. It may get some recognitions, regrettably, even though it would be a violation of [resolution] 1244 and the U.N. Charter, but it's not going to come to this building as a full-fledged member of the international community. It's not going to be able to join other political and international institutions," he said.
Wednesday's Security Council session was intended to focus on the activities of the 46-hundred strong U.N. mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), but not final status discussions. The Secretary-General's Special Representative Joachim Rücker briefed the Council on the U.N. mission. He told reporters afterwards that UNMIK has achieved what it can under the circumstances, but the issue of Kosovo status needs to be resolved.