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Kosovo is 'not a state', Serbia's president says

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT

Latest update : 2009-02-17

A year after declaring independence, Kosovo is 'not a state', according to Serbian President Boris Tadic, who said Kosovo's status as a failed state was glaring, particularly on the issue of human rights and organised crime.

AFP - Kosovo is far from being independent and is wracked by organised crime and rights abuses despite seceding unilaterally from Serbia a year ago, Serbian President Boris Tadic said Monday.
For Serbia, the February 17 anniversary is "a day when the authorities in Pristina declared the independence of Kosovo in an illegal way, based on international law," Tadic told AFP in an interview.
"A year later, it's clear to everyone who wants to see the real situation in Kosovo that it's not a state," he said.
Speaking a day before the ethnic Albanian-majority territory celebrates its first independence anniversary, Tadic said Kosovo's status as a failed state was glaring, particularly on the issue of human rights.
Besides organised crime, the level of "human rights protection is really minimal, which is proven by the lack of Serbs and other refugees returning to their homes," he added.
More than 220,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians fled Kosovo during and after its 1998-1999 conflict, which was ended by NATO's air war on Serbian forces waging a brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.
"Not only Serbia, but many EU countries suffer because of the Albanian mafia in Kosovo, which is a key link in (international) drug trafficking," the Serbian president said.
Kosovo, a southern ethnic Albanian-majority province, declared unilateral independence on February 17, 2008 in a move Serbia rejects as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
It remains under the supervision of the international community and NATO peacekeepers, but has been recognised by 54 nations, including the United States and 22 of the European Union's 27 members.
Serbia's pro-European coalition government led by Tadic's Democratic Party has accepted an EU mission to Kosovo in place of the United Nations, which analysts see as a concession by Belgrade to speed up its EU integration.
In the interview, Tadic said however that the global economic crisis together with differences among EU member states might force Serbia to push back its plans to apply for candidacy in the first half of this year.
"We are aware of a different atmosphere in Europe regarding the enlargement" of the European Union, Tadic said.
"Therefore our every step, including the application for EU membership, will be reconsidered within that context in order for our candidacy be accepted as soon as possible," he added.
Serbia initially hoped to win EU candidacy by the year's end, but Tadic was more cautious and said the final date would be established after Belgrade analyses and discusses the situation with its European partners.
"For Serbia, it is much more important to become an EU candidate than to apply for candidacy as soon as possible," he said.
"We are currently in the middle of revising the dynamics of realising our foreign policy goals."
Last week, EU enlargement chief Olli Rehn discouraged Serbia from applying for candidacy before meeting conditions including the capture of Bosnian Serb genocide suspect Ratko Mladic.
The handover of Mladic and one other war crimes fugitive, wartime Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic, to The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is a key condition for Serbia's EU integration.
"Serbia is doing absolutely everything possible... to find, arrest and deliver to The Hague court Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic," Tadic said.
"I cannot predict when it will happen as we don't know Mladic's whereabouts yet, but if we knew them, he would have been arrested today," he added.

Date created : 2009-02-17