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Kosovo: Serbs rely on Russian support

Latest update : 2008-02-24

As Moscow warned the West about jeopardising international relations by recognising Kosovo's independence, Serb officials welcomed the support of old ally Russia in condemning this event. FRANCE 24 correspondent Cyril Vanier reports.

Serb officials welcomed the support of old ally Russia in opposing Kosovo's independence Saturday, as Moscow warned the West was jeopardising international relations in recognising the new state.
  
"Russia enters in war for Kosovo!," read the front-page headline of Belgrade-based daily Press in response to a stream of Russian rhetoric.
  
Serbia is under pressure from Washington and Brussels to stop the violence that erupted after Kosovo's February 17 declaration, but Moscow has weighed in on Belgrade's behalf -- increasing already tense relations with the West.
  
An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday described Western recognition of Kosovo as a cocked gun ready for firing, telling Interfax news agency that "no one knows when and where the shot will ring out."
  
Islamist "jihadists of terror" who had settled in Kosovo could now be expected to come out into the open, said Anatoly Safonov, Putin's envoy for international cooperation in combating terrorism and organised crime.
  
Putin himself on Friday described Kosovo's independence as a "terrible precedent" that would come back to hit the West "in the face" and would have "unforeseeable consequences."
  
And Russia's newly-appointed representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said the same day that Moscow had the right to "use force" if NATO or the EU challenged the UN over Kosovo.
  
The Press daily quoted a senior official of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, Aleksandar Vucic, saying that "only Russians could stop NATO's fascist measures in Kosovo."
  
It also quoted a Kosovo Serb leader, Goran Bogdanovic, as welcoming the attitude of Moscow.
  
"Obviously, the Kosovo problem exceeded the frame of the Balkans and one could expect (further) dispute among great powers over the issue," he said.
  
"I understood Rogozin's statement primarily as a warning to the West that their presence in Kosovo must remain within the (UN Security Council) Resolution 1244. Otherwise it could lead to increasing tensions and even conflict of worldwide proportions," he said.
  
The resolution, passed in June 1999, ended conflict between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians separatists in Kosovo, putting the province under UN administration but formally keeping it within Serbian borders.
  
The resolution was also one of Madrid's arguments against recognising the independence of Kosovo, Spanish Secretary of State for foreign affairs Bernardino Leon Gros wrote in an article published by independent Blic daily.
  
"Unlike other countries that separated, like Slovakia and Czech Republic, there has been neither agreement of the involved sides nor a UN resolution in the case of Kosovo," he wrote.
  
"Beside legal reasons, this proclamation of independence is contrary to everything that the international community has proclaimed in the Balkans since the (conflicts) 1990s," Gros said.
  
Along with Spain, four other EU members -- Romania, Cyprus, Greece and Slovakia -- have announced they will not recognise the new state.
  
Meanwhile, Serbian Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardzic again attacked the US for their support to ethnic Albanian majority's declaration of the independence of Kosovo.
  
"The government of Serbia will not stop to hold the US accountable for having broken off the international law and seceded a part of Serbia's territoriy in a violent way," the minister told state-run Tanjug news agency.
  
Samardzic rejected Washington's accusations that Serbian authorities had not properly protected the US embassy in Belgrade when rioting broke out on Thursday and protesters set fire to the mission, leaving one person dead.
  
"The main culprit for all the troubles that occurred since February 17 is the United States," Samardzic said, referring to the date when Kosovo's parliament in Pristina proclaimed independence.

Date created : 2008-02-23

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