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SERBIA / KOSOVO

Kostunica urges EU to stay out of Kosovo

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called on the EU to abandon “the unlawful sending of its mission” to the Serbian breakaway province of Kosovo.

“Starting from the respect for and strong insistence on European values, Serbia demands of the EU not to undermine the country's territorial integrity and to clearly abandon the unlawful sending of its mission,” Kostunica said in a statement to the national Tanjug news agency Saturday.

Kostunica said by sending its mission to Kosovo, the European Union would breach the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) it initialed in November with Serbia, the UN Charter, Resolution 1244 on Kosovo, and the Helsinki Final Act, all documents which “explicitly guarantee Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“It is certain that on January 28 an agreement can be signed with Serbia or the EU will adopt a decision to break up Serbia with its mission. The two don't go together and the choice lies with the EU,” Kostunica said.

The European Union is mulling whether to send a 1,800-member police and administrative mission to the predominantly ethnic Albanian province. Serbia is concerned that an EU deployment would be a prelude to Kosovo's independence, to which it will never agree. Kostunica's hard-line position has worried his coalition partner the pro-Western Democratic Party led by Serbian President Boris Tadic. Tadic, who advocates closer ties with the European Union, regardless of Kosovo's future status, has said Serbia must sign the SAA with the EU as planned later this month. However, if and when the SAA will be signed primarily depends on the assessment of whether Serbia fully cooperates with the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

(BBJ 14.i.08)

 
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