Serbia 'will never recognise unilateral Kosovo independence'

22nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Serbia will never recognise a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, its foreign minister said Thursday as he called for calm after a UN court gave its backing to the breakaway by Pristina.

"Serbia will never, under any circumstances recognise the unilateral declaration of independence of the so-called Republic of Kosovo," Vuk Jeremic told reporters outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"Our position is not going to change."

Jeremic also appealed for calm, particular among the minority ethnic Serb community who are concentrated in the north of Kosovo, in the wake of the verdict.

"Difficult days are ahead of us ... It is of crucial importance to keep the peace and to stabilise the entire territory of the province (Kosovo)," he added.

"It is crucial that our citizens de not react to provocations."

The ICJ ruled earlier that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008 "did not violate international law".

Jeremic called the ruling "a very narrow, legal interpretation of the text of the declaration itself", and said the court avoided giving its opinion on whether minorities have a right to secede.

"From now on there are going to be people in the world tempted to write declarations of independence that are obviously, according to the court, in their narrow sense OK with international law."

The minister insisted that further negotiations must be held on Kosovo's status.

"The only future status of Kosovo that is long-lasting, that is sustainable, that is peaceful, can only be achieved after all sides agree to such a solution. This can only happen through peaceful negotiations."

While Serbia would continue "using diplomatic, political and legal means to defend our territorial integrity and sovereignty", EU membership "remains a strategic priority", Jeremic said.


© 2010 AFP

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