Serbia's Tadic expected at UN council Monday

Other News Materials 18 February 2008 03:59 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The United Nations Security Council planned to meet Monday for a formal debate on Kosovo's declaration of independence while Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a peaceful resolution of the storm of controversy triggered by the move.The meeting at 2100 GMT in New York by the 15-nation council will be attended by Serbian President Boris Tadic, whose government has rejected Kosovo's secession. The council met Sunday to discuss procedures for the open meeting on Monday.

Ban informed the council of events in Pristina, saying that the UN mission reported the situation remained calm. He said Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has reaffirmed "equal opportunity and no discrimination of any Kosovo inhabitants."

"I call on all sides to reaffirm and act upon their commitment to refrain from any action and statements that could endanger peace and incite violence or jeopardize security in the region," Ban said.

He said the situation in Kosovo is at too early a stage to make further comment. But he had instructed the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to remain there to carry out Resolution 1244 of 1999, which will remain the legal framework for the mandate.

The resolution authorizes the UN to assist Pristina in establishing democratic institutions, and the European Union and other states to provide security and protection to Kosovo.

Council members said they agreed that the resolution remains in effect. But Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called on the UNMIK to declare Kosovo independence illegal, a call that was rejected by the US and British envoys, whose governments support Kosovo's independence.

The diplomats and the UN said it will be up to individual countries to recognize Kosovo's sovereignty and not for the UN to do so. They refrained from interpreting too much from the new developments in Kosovo at the moment.

US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff told reporters that the United States was "pleased" to see implementation of the Martti Ahtisaari plan - after the former Finnish president who negotiated the plan that gives Kosovo an internationally supervised independence.

"We are not particularly concerned or see any dangers that we would worry about," Wolff said in reply to a question whether the plan could inspire other ethnic groups to demand independence.

The United States and other Western governments in the council have rejected Russia's repeated warnings that granting or recognizing Kosovo as a full-fledged state would set a precedence for territories like Abkhazia, a white Russian-inhabited province in Georgia, to break from that nation.

The US said Kosovo was a "unique" case that called for a special solution.

The meeting on Sunday was requested by Russia, but Russian diplomats declined to say what they planned to achieve in the urgent meeting.

Of the Security Council's five permanent members with veto power, Russia and China oppose Kosovo's independence while the United States, France and Britain support it.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic appeared before the council Thursday to appeal for action to stop Kosovo from declaring independence. But the council took no action, saying the issue had to be dealt with by the European Union.

Jeremic said Belgrade intended to impose political, diplomatic and economic sanctions on Kosovo if it went ahead with independence.

"The Republic of Serbia shall not tolerate such an illegal act of secession," Jeremic said. "If forced to react beyond our control, our government and National Assembly will declare the actions of the authorities in Pristina null and void."

"And we shall undertake all diplomatic, political and economic measures designed to impede and reverse this direct and unprovoked attack on our sovereignty," he said.