Archive for Sunday, February 10, 2008

Serbia wants to keep control in Kosovo after statehood declared

February 10, 2008


— Serbia's minister for Kosovo suggested Saturday that the government will seek to keep control over Serb-populated areas after the predominantly ethnic Albanian province declares independence.

Slobodan Samardzic said Friday that Belgrade had information indicating that Kosovo will unilaterally declare independence on Feb. 17.

Western officials said they expected the move a day later, and Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, did not confirm or deny Samardzic's statement but said Kosovo's split from Serbia was "a done deal."

On Saturday, Samardzic said "all should be done for the Serbs to remain on their land and live safely as citizens of Serbia after possible unilateral independence declaration" - a stance that seemed to set the two sides up for more tension and a de-facto division of the disputed territory.

Hard-line Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, meanwhile, called any independent Kosovo a "false state" that Serbia would never recognize.

"Kosovo will always be Serbia," he said Saturday.

"Kosovo has no price," Kostunica added, rejecting the deployment of an EU mission in Kosovo as "legal violence" against Serbia.

Serbia strongly opposes independence for the separatist southern province, which it considers its historic heartland. The Serbian government has said it will ignore the move and retaliate against the countries that recognize Kosovo's statehood.


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