France says EU has to take stand on Kosovo

Other News Materials 13 February 2008 00:24 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged the European Union on Tuesday to take a common position on whether to recognize Kosovo should it declare independence from Serbia.

Kouchner said in New York that the EU's Council on General Affairs planned to meet Monday in Brussels to study the looming declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanian-led government in Pristina.

"This is the time to take a decision" by the 25-nation EU, Kouchner told reporters. "We'll see on Monday."

Pristina is rumoured to be planning to proclaim independence on Sunday. Kouchner said the EU has now to take a stand whether or not to support that move.

Kouchner said the EU had given Serbia and Kosovo its position four months ago, which at the time was a plan for "supervised independence" that would see the European Union take over the administration of the province for a period.

European countries have until now been divided over whether to recognise Kosovo if it should declare independence. Some nations are worried it could set a precedent that would encourage minorities in their own countries to seek independence.

Serbia, backed by Russia, has offered substantial autonomy but strongly opposed independence and negotiations between the two sides have failed to create a breakthrough.