( Reuters ) - The United States alone can choose whether the Balkans experience stability or lawlessness, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Friday, after the failure of negotiations with Kosovo Albanians.
Washington can either continue to back eventual independence for the breakaway province of Kosovo or uphold a United Nations resolution which affirms Serbian sovereignty, he said.
"The stability and peace of the whole region now depends on a U.S. decision whether it will respect U.N. Resolution 1244 or will opt for a gross violation of the resolution and the UN Charter," he told Serbia's Beta news agency.
Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, authorizes U.N. administration of the province under NATO security, which began that year after the Western alliance drove out Serb forces to end a ruthless crackdown on Albanian separatists.
The resolution affirms the sovereignty of now defunct Yugoslavia, of which Serbia is the successor state.
The United States is not alone in viewing independence as the only viable option for Kosovo, whose 90 percent Albanian population has demanded a clean break with Serbia for the past eight years, following a war which cost over 10,000 lives.
The great majority of the EU's 27-member states also support statehood if no compromise can be reached with Serbia.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during a news conference in Nice on Friday with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, said no one wanted to humiliate Serbia or challenge its main big power backer, Russia.
"The Kosovars will have their independence. The Serbs must understand that it's about neighbors, and that they have to live together," he said. "We would like it to happen at the opportune time...when no one feels humiliated. Because what we want is peace between the Kosovars and the Serbs."