Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • EU leaders meet in Brussels to seek a response to Russia

    Read more

  • IMF stands behind Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Experimental Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' against IS militants in Syria

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

Europe

Kosovo independence a threat to world order, Serbs tell ICJ

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-21

Serbia has said Kosovo's declaration of independence was "a major challenge to international order" as the International Court of Justice in The Hague began hearings into Pristina's decision to break away from Serbia.

AFP - Serbian legal experts accused Kosovo Tuesday of defying international order by declaring independence, as a top UN court began hearings into Pristina's decision to break away from Serbia in 2008.

At the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the experts argued that the ethnic Albanian majority's move would set a dangerous precedent, and claimed that status negotiations with Pristina had not run their course.

The head of the Serbian delegation, Dusan Batakovic, said the unilateral declaration of independence "is but an attempt to put an end to the international regime put in place for Kosovo by the UN Security Council."

"It is a major challenge to international order," he said, at the start of a three-hour session for Serbia to make its case. Representatives from Kosovo were to address the court later Tuesday.

Kosovo was put under UN supervision following a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 against former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic to stop his crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

"It would constitute a most dangerous precedent ... if states were allowed to learn that the setting up of such a UN administration constitutes nothing but the first step in the process of secession," Andreas Zimmermann, international law professor at the University of Potsdam, told the court.

The hearings in the Netherlands will run until December 11 and include testimony from 29 nations. The court will not hand down any verdict, but give an "advisory opinion" on the move, which could come in a few months.

They are to address the question of the "accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence by the provisional institutions of self-government of Kosovo."

Going to the heart of Belgrade's motives, Batakovic said that talks on Kosovo's status -- which were deadlocked for months, deeply frustrating international backers -- remain the best way forward.

"Serbia rejects the claim that all alternatives for negotiation have been exhausted," he said.

"We are confident that once the court will have shed its juridical light on the question, the conditions will be created to reach a compromise on the future status of Kosovo."

Frustration over that long and apparently unreconcilable process led the United States and most of the European Union to commit to backing Kosovo, which is home to some two million people, 90 percent of them of Albanian origin.

Batakovic also insisted that the southern territory remained central to his country's history and cultural identity.

"Kosovo is the cradle of Serbia's history and an integral part of its identity," he told the court.

More than 60 nations have recognised Kosovo's statehood, including 22 of the 27 members of the European Union, which launched a massive justice and police mission to help chaperone the poverty-stricken region to independence.

Russia warned that endorsing independence would set a dangerous precedent for separatists around the world, and its echoes resonated in Moscow's backing for two rebel regions in Georgia last August.

Serbia, which has strong backing from its ally Russia, won agreement on October 8, 2008 from the United Nations General Assembly for Kosovo's actions to be heard here.

Of the countries taking part in the hearings, 15 have recognised Kosovo's sovereignty, including the United States and France.

Among the 14 who have not, Spain and China have also expressed concern about influence on their own separatist minded regions.

The ICJ was set up to rule on disputes between sovereign states, but can also be asked by the UN to give an advisory opinion on legal questions.

It has issued 25 such advisory opinions since it started work in April 1946, but such opinions are not binding.

Date created : 2009-12-01

  • KOSOVO

    Kosovo's first vote since independence is seen as test for democracy

    Read more

  • THE HAGUE

    Karadzic war crimes trial resumes despite boycott

    Read more

  • SIERRA LEONE

    UN tribunal upholds sentences handed to former rebel leaders

    Read more

COMMENT(S)