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Serbia to take retaliatory steps against the West if Kosovo becomes independent

Serbia to take retaliatory steps against the West if Kosovo becomes independent

Serbia's prime minister condemned the United States on Wednesday for supporting Kosovo's independence, as Parliament debated severing diplomatic ties with Western nations that recognize the province's statehood.
"America is openly striving for the destruction of the international order," Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told the parliament. "America, which once seemed like a symbol of freedom, now advocates the policies of force."
The resolution debated by Parliament, proposed by Kostunica's government, rejects the idea of the European Union setting up a mission in Kosovo before the breakaway province's status is resolved. It threatens to halt Serbia's integration into the European Union if Kosovo gains statehood, and denounces NATO and the West for their alleged support of the separatist Kosovo Albanians.
If adopted, the resolution would oblige Serbian officials to reject Kosovo's independence, and would likely lead to further deterioration of Serbia's relations with the West.
Ethnic Albanians, who account for about 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million population, have said they would proclaim independence early next year.
The U.S. and several European Union states have said they would recognize Kosovo's independence because it has not been under Serbia's control since 1999, when NATO intervened to stop former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's military crackdown against the separatists.
Serbia, backed by Russia, insists Kosovo should remain part of its territory, and has urged more negotiations with Kosovo Albanians.
Kostunica accused the U.S. of blocking efforts to find a compromise by its open support of Kosovo's independence.
"The United States has decided that there could be no more talks," Kostunica said. "America decided that the problem which the U.N. Security Council started to solve must be solved outside the council."
Serbia's pro-Western President, Boris Tadic, was much more moderate in his speech, saying Serbia must strive to keep Kosovo, but it should not give up "its European future" along the way.
The resolution says Serbia must "reconsider" diplomatic ties with Western countries that recognize Kosovo's statehood. It says that, because of NATO's alleged support for Kosovo's independence, Serbia must remain outside the Western military alliance.
The document also said the possible signing of a pre-membership trade and aid deal with the European Union in January "must be in the function of preserving the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Ultra-nationalist leader Tomislav Nikolic told the parliament that his Radicals, the biggest group in the parliament, would support the resolution if it "guarantees" that one result would be not signing the so-called EU Stabilization and Association Agreement unless it explicitly specified that Kosovo is Serbia's territory.
"Our fight for Kosovo is the fight for the state borders," Nikolic said.
Opposition Liberal Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic _ a rare Serbian official who does not oppose Kosovo's independence _ said the resolution represents "a blow to Serbia's ambitions to become a EU member."
Jovanovic accused Tadic and Kostunica of turning Serbia into a "training ground for the conflict between Russia and America, from which they will see no harm, but Serbia will."
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Associated Press Writer Jovana Gec contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-01-18 18:37 GMT+08:00