Serbia warns over Kosovo independence
(Reuters) Serbia warned the United Nations on Thursday of "unforeseeable consequences" that could destabilize the world if the breakaway province of Kosovo declares independence unilaterally later this year.
Serbian President Boris Tadic urged the U.N. General Assembly to avoid creating what he said would be a dangerous legal precedent hours before foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy met at U.N. headquarters on the future of Kosovo.
Tadic said Kosovo Albanian leaders were threatening to declare independence on December 11 if talks brokered by the major powers failed, and he warned the world against recognition.
"Following a one-sided recognition of Kosovo's independence, the international legal order would never be the same," he said. Separatist movements everywhere would seize on the precedent, he said.
"Many regions of the world would be destabilized that way."
Tadic reaffirmed Belgrade's position that independence for Kosovo was unacceptable and said Serbia was willing to offer broad autonomy in line with European norms -- a stance the West calls unrealistic and Kosovo's 2 million Albanians reject.
NATO waged an air war to drive Serbian forces out of the province in 1999 and end ethnic cleansing against the Albanians in Belgrade's crackdown on separatist guerrillas. Kosovo has been in legal limbo under U.N. supervision since then.
Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders are due to hold their first face-to-face talks under the mediation of the six-power Contact Group in New York on Friday in a negotiating process due to conclude on December 10. Chances of a deal appear remote.