Kosovo Partition not on agenda yet - Serbian President

Other News Materials 1 October 2008 00:31 (UTC +04:00)

Serbian President Boris Tadic Tuesday said that he was not planning to propose a partition of the breakaway Kosovo, but neither did he rule the idea out, while authorities in Pristina angrily did, dpa reported.

"Partition is being discussed in Serbia and the international community and it has been one of the options during all these years," Tadic told an evening press conference. "That option I can consider only when all other options are spent."

As Serbian president, Tadic has limited formal authority, but as the leader of the pro-European ruling coalition, in power since May elections, he is the actual speaker for Serbia.

"I will reiterate the position and policy of Serbia regarding Kosovo," he said. "Serbia does not and will never recognize Kosovo's independence."

Tadic initially floated the idea of partition, which has been mentioned on the margins of futile negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade over the past few years, in an interview Monday.

Kosovo, with its vastly dominant Albanian population, declared independence from Serbia in February.

While quickly recognized by leading Western nations, the promotion Pristina had hoped for in the United Nations and snowballing international recognition were blocked by Serbia's powerful ally Russia.

Serbia insists that Kosovo is its heartland soil and has launched an initiative at the United Nations to send the issue of its independence to the International Court of Justice. The UN General Assembly was to vote on the initiative on October 8.

The government in Pristina, dominated by Albanians and boycotted by minority Serbs, meanwhile declared the issue closed and is seeking support from more countries than the 47 that have recognized it so far.

"Our message to all those who profess partitioning Kosovo is that they've lost Kosovo for ever," the Kosovo parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Pristina.

"Kosovo now has internationally recognized, defined borders and any attempt to change them would open new problems in the Balkans," he warned. "We don't believe that the Balkans and Europe are interested in creating the problem of redrawing regional borders."

But Pristina is not in control over the northernmost one-quarter of its territory along the boundary with Serbia proper, which is comprehensively dominated by Serbs who make up a 10-per-cent overall minority.

Aided by Belgrade, Serbs established structures of parallel authority with the town Mitrovica as their hub and are hostile, even violently so, to both local and international authorities in Pristina.

Kosovo was administered by the UN since NATO ousted Belgrade's security forces from the province in 1999 to end ethnic bloodshed.

While the UN have been downsizing and handing over a part of their authority to an EU mission since Kosovo declared independence, NATO remains as the chief peacekeeper in Kosovo.