Serbia urges U.N. council to block Kosovo secession

UNITED NATIONS – If the U.N. Security Council does nothing to stop Kosovo from seceding, it will tell the world that no country’s sovereignty and borders are safe, Serbian President Boris Tadic said on Monday.

Speaking at a council meeting after the United States and major European Union powers recognized the former Serbian province as an independent state, Tadic reiterated that Serbia saw the secession as a violation of international law.

“If you cast a blind eye to this illegal act, who guarantees to you that parts of your countries will not declare independence in the same illegal way?” he told the 15-nation council.

“Who can guarantee that a blind eye will not be cast to the violation of the charter of the United Nations, which guarantees the sovereignty and integrity of each state, when your country’s turn comes up?”

Serbia and its ally Russia, a veto-wielding Security Council member, have been urging the council to intervene against Kosovo’s independence. But Moscow and Belgrade have failed to move the council due to Western support for Kosovo.

Tadic reaffirmed that Belgrade would not use force to prevent Kosovo from going its own way.

“As a responsible member of the international community, committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes, the republic of Serbia will not use force,” he said.

An emergency council session on Sunday called by Russia failed to bridge differences between Moscow, which agrees with Serbia that the declaration is illegal, and Western states that maintain independence is the only viable option.

Even though four months of talks between Pristina and Belgrade on the future status of Kosovo yielded no agreement by the time they ended in December 2007, both Russia and Serbia continue to demand a new round of negotiations.

The United States and most European Union member states say late Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s brutal suppression of Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanians in the 1990s, which led to a 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, ensured that Kosovo would never again be ruled from Belgrade.

Tadic dismissed that argument as absurd.

“Today is February 2008, Slobodan Milosevic is there no more, and in 1999 when he was in power in Serbia, Kosovo was not granted independence,” he said. “The Albanians worked actively for secession for decades even before … Milosevic.”

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO troops were deployed there after the Western alliance bombed Serbia to compel it to stop killing and driving out Albanians in a counterinsurgency war.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council the U.N. mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, would remain there.

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