Germany urges Serbia, Kosovo to accept ICJ ruling
Germany called on Serbia and Kosovo to defuse their dispute over Pristina's final status following a ruling by the UN's highest court Thursday backing Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the non-binding decision by the International Court of Justice, saying that Germany agreed that Kosovo's "independence and territorial integrity are irrefutable facts".
He said both Serbia and Kosovo could one day hope to become members of the European Union if they could find a lasting resolution to the conflict.
"The future of Serbia and Kosovo lies in the EU," Westerwelle said in a statement.
"That is why I call on the political leaders in Belgrade and Pristina to focus on their European future and, in the interest of their people, tackle the issues of their daily co-existence in a constructive and pragmatic way."
Landlocked Kosovo, with its two million inhabitants -- 90 percent of them ethnic Albanians -- unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 after UN-brokered negotiations to resolve its future status failed.
In its verdict, the ICJ rejected Belgrade's argument that the declaration had no legal basis.
Pristina hopes the outcome will lead to more nations recognising its independence but Serbia said Thursday it would never recognise the move.
Sixty-nine countries have so far recognised Kosovo as independent, including the United States and all but five of the 27 EU member states. Russia, Serbia's most powerful ally on the world stage, has not.
Germany participated in a NATO air campaign to end the 1998-99 war between separatist Kosovo Albanians and Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's security forces, in its first offensive military action since World War II.
© 2010 AFP