German FM: UN court ruling on Kosovo 'unique decision'

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The UN top court's ruling in favour of Kosovo's 2008 independence declaration was a "unique decision" and not precedent-setting, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Friday.

"It's a unique decision in a unique situation with a unique historical background," Westerwelle told reporters in Nicosia after holding talks with his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Markos Kyprianou.

"This was very specific expertise it has nothing to do with any other cases in the world," said Westerwelle, referring to Thursday's non-binding decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

"It has a special historical background and this opinion of judges has something to do with this special historical background and with this specific situation," he added.

"It is not a decision for other countries or other regions in the world. So this is, I think, very important for all our partners."

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.

The five who have not recognised Kosovo are: Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, which has deep concerns given breakaway tendencies in its wealthy Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Kyprianou on Friday said Nicosia's position on Kosovo "remains unchanged."

"We believe that any change in territorial integrity of a country must come through discussion and negotiation," Kyprianou told reporters.

"We will continue being constructive in the assistance and development of Kosovo in the EU."

Westerwelle had on Thursday welcomed the ICJ's ruling, saying that Germany agreed that Kosovo's "independence and territorial integrity are irrefutable facts."

Urging Serbia and Kosovo to defuse their dispute, he said both countries could one day hope to become members of the European Union if they could find a lasting resolution to the conflict.

© 2010 AFP

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