Serbia urges halt of recognition of Kosovo's independence

( dpa )- Serbia on Tuesday accused the more than 20 countries that have so far recognized Kosovo's independence of undermining international law, warning that their decisions would legitimize illegal secession by other ethnic minorities.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic traveled to New York to attend a special session of the UN Security Council requested by his government in a renewed effort to reassert its authority over Kosovo and prevent further recognition.

Jeremic also criticized the European Union for sending an assistance team to Pristina, calling the move illegal. But the EU said the council's previous resolutions dealing with Kosovo had authorized the team.

"These 20-something countries that furthered the secessionist cause of Kosovo Albanians have contributed to making the international system more unstable, more insecure and more unpredictable," Jeremic told the council.

The countries that recognized Kosovo's independence include the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland.

Russia, an ally of Serbia, is strongly opposed to Kosovo's independence, which it declared on February 18.

The UN cannot approve or disapprove of a nation declaring independence and recognition of that act is left to individual countries.

Following Jeremic's speech in an open session, the council's 15 members held a closed-door discussion. Some diplomats came afterwards said they welcomed Jeremic's speech to the council, but they said it has not changed the position of those who have recognized Kosovo's independence.

"Minister Jeremic's address was an interesting presentation, but it had no substance," said British Ambassador John Sawers. He said Serbia has committed to look toward a future with the European Union and that is a good position.

Sawers said also that Russia would like the council to adopt a common position after listening to Jeremic, but he said such a demand would not be possible because many Security Council members have recognized Kosovo's independence.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Jeremic was positive in restating a pro-European stance. But he said many countries have exercised their sovereign right to recognize Kosovo's independence.

"We do believe that Serbia and Kosovo should hold talks and try to understand each other," Khalilzad said.

Jeremic and Serbian President Boris Tadic attended a council meeting last month after Kosovo declared independence and their rhetoric has not changed. They vowed never to let go of claims over Kosovo as a Serbian province, while pledging cooperation with the European Union to one day become a member.

"The Republic of Serbia will not accept the imposition of an outcome that fundamentally violates our legitimate national interests," Jeremic said, adding that his country will use all legal means to fight to keep Kosovo.

He urged countries that have not recognized Kosovo's independence to stay the course and defend international law while urging those that have done so to reconsider.

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