British FM urges Serbia to amend Kosovo resolution

31st August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain on Tuesday urged Serbia to reach an agreement with the European Union over a new text of a draft resolution on Kosovo it has submitted to the UN General Assembly.

"What we would like for Serbia is to engage in discussions with (EU foreign affairs chief) Catherine Ashton, about the way forward that Serbia and the EU can take together," British Foreign Minister William Hague told a news conference after meetings with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.

Asked if he demanded that Serbia withdraw its draft resolution, which has irked Brussels as it was submitted without their agreement, Hague said this was "an area of disagreement".

"What we really need is an agreed approach, an agreed text between the EU and Serbia and the best way to bring that about is to have a new resolution ... but of course the government of Serbia has a different position from that," he said.

Earlier in the day, Tadic issued a statement saying that "Serbia is ready for a compromise over a draft resolution on Kosovo which would be acceptable to both Serbia and the international community".

However in a statement issued after his meeting with Hague, Tadic warned that "a compromise in relation to the recognition of Kosovo independence is excluded".

Tadic has repeatedly vowed that Belgrade would never accept Kosovo's independence.

Serbia submitted the draft resolution after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a non-binding opinion in July that Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia did not violate international law.

The resolution, much-criticised in Europe and due to be debated at the UN General Assembly next month, calls for fresh talks on all outstanding issues but also condemns Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

Backed by the United States, the EU has warned Belgrade that insisting on the resolution could harm relations with Brussels and eventually its aspirations to become an EU member.

"I hope it is possible to move on into the future and bring the Balkans nations into the EU," Hague said.

"I am concerned that if we are unable to do that Serbia might be caught between its past and its future: unable to recreate the past but finding it difficult to move on into the future," he said.

Hague and Jeremic said they had agreed to work hard on the issues with the EU and Serbia in the coming days.

Local media reported that the text of the resolution is due to be discussed in the UN next week so Brussels and Belgrade will have to move quickly to reach an agreement on an amended text.

Jeremic stressed that Serbia is "naturally ready ... to discuss with all the important international players including the EU how to provide the broadest possible support for the text of the resolution".

However he also warned that for Serbia withdrawing their resolution "is not an option" and stressed that while Belgrade was ready to cooperate "there is always a red line that Serbia will not cross".

In February 2008 Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia, despite fierce opposition from Belgrade, which continued to consider it as its southern province.

So far 69 states, including the US and most EU members, have recognised Kosovo as an independent state.

© 2010 AFP

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