UN and big powers oppose Serbia's plan to hold polls in Kosovo

Other News Materials 16 April 2008 16:50 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The United Nations administration in Kosovo, backed by the big-powers Contact Group, opposes Serbia's plan to hold local elections in the province which declared independence two months ago, a UN spokesman said Thursday.

Officials from the UN and the Contact Group - the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Russia - discussed Belgrade's plans to hold polls in Kosovo along with a vote in Serbia on May 11, spokesman Aleksander Ivanko told a press conference in Pristina.

"We had a meeting last evening with regard to Serbia's local elections in Kosovo and there is a unified stand that Serbia's local elections are unacceptable," Ivanko said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February and was recognized by leading Western nations, but the move is opposed by Russia, an ally of Serbia which claims sovereignty over the province with a 90-per-cent Albanian majority.

Serbia plans to hold local elections - which coincide with early parliamentary polls - in municipalities where Serbs have the majority, to back its claim of property over the receding province it considers its own.

Kosovo has been a UN and NATO protectorate since NATO ousted Serbian security forces from it in mid-1999 to end ethnic bloodshed.

Ivanko said the UN and the Contact Group were "expecting" Serbia to respect UN Resolution 1244, which is the legal basis for the foreign missions in Kosovo.

Serbia considers Kosovo's declaration of independence illegal and invalid and has scaled down diplomatic links to countries which have recognized the new state, including all Western members of the Contact Group.

Belgrade has even suspended Serbia's approach to European Union membership over Brussels' support for Kosovo.