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Serbia adopts retaliatory steps against the West if Kosovo becomes independent

Serbia adopts retaliatory steps against the West if Kosovo becomes independent

Serbia's parliament adopted a resolution that threatens to halt the country's integration into the European Union and cut off diplomatic ties with Western countries if they recognize Kosovo's independence.
The resolution _ passed on Wednesday with 220 votes in favor, 14 against and three abstentions _ also rejects the idea of the EU setting up a mission in Kosovo before the breakaway province's status is resolved, and denounces NATO for allegedly supporting the separatist Kosovo Albanians.
The document obliges Serbian officials to reject Kosovo's statehood.
Ethnic Albanians, who account for about 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people, have said they would proclaim independence early next year.
The U.S. and several EU 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 _ considered the cradle of Serbia's medieval state and religion _ should remain part of its territory, and has urged more negotiations with Kosovo Albanians.
During a fiery debate in Parliament, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica accused the U.S. of blocking efforts to find a compromise with ethnic Albanians by its open support of Kosovo's independence.
"America is openly striving for the destruction of the international order," Kostunica told the parliament. "America, which once seemed like a symbol of freedom, now advocates the policies of force."
Serbia's pro-Western President, Boris Tadic, was more moderate in his speech, saying Serbia must strive to keep Kosovo, but that 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 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."
Kostunica clarified that Serbia would not join the EU if the bloc recognized Kosovo's independence.
"Serbia can join any integration only as a whole and not a truncated country," Kostunica said.
Ultra-nationalist leader Tomislav Nikolic told the parliament that his Radicals, the biggest group in the assembly, 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 : 2021-03-08 21:13 GMT+08:00