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Serbia denounces EU mission head in Kosovo

Serbia denounces EU mission head in Kosovo

A top Serbian official denounced the newly appointed EU representative in Kosovo Saturday, saying his presence there was illegal and represented an affront to the United Nations.
Branislav Ristivojevic, an adviser to the Serbian prime minister, said Belgrade had no idea who Pieter Feith represented nor "who authorized him to come to Kosovo, what is the legal basis for his presence in Kosovo, nor in what capacity he is attempting to deal with Belgrade."
Serbia's ties with the European Union have deteriorated since many of the bloc's members recognized the independence of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.
Nationalists in the Cabinet have sharply criticized the EU, although ministers who are members of pro-Western parties say membership of the bloc remains Serbia's main foreign policy priority.
Feith, the European Union's new representative in Kosovo, will also head the 1,800-strong mission that the bloc plans to deploy in Kosovo to replace the U.N. administration.
Belgrade already has lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations against the establishment of the EU mission.
Serbia and its ally Russia maintain that the U.N. Security Council had not authorized the switch from the U.N. mission to the EU mission.
Neither nation has recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence last month, which was immediately recognized by the United States and many EU nations.
On Friday, Feith said in the Kosovo capital of Pristina that he would not bow to Serbian pressure aimed at hindering the deployment of the EU mission, despite threats from minority Serbs to boycott and obstruct its work.
He also accused Belgrade of striving for a de facto division of Kosovo, because the region's northern areas adjoining Serbia are dominated by the Serb minority.
In a further sign of a growing rift between Kosovo's Serbs and the newly independent state, some 120 Serb policemen turned in their badges and guns in the town of Gracanica on Saturday. The group is the second to be suspended from the force for refusing to work for the new state.
Some 800 Serb policemen in Kosovo have said they want to continue working under the auspices of the United Nations, and not take orders from ethnic Albanians who dominate the force. Most of the Serb officers are in Kosovo's northern section, which is controlled by the Serb minority and which has eluded U.N. and NATO control.
Ristivojevic said "the illegal presence (in Kosovo) is the worst possible demonstration of the policy of force which makes a mockery of the authority of the United Nations."
Serbia claims that the establishment of an EU mission represents an attempt to circumvent U.N. Resolution 1244 which in 1999 formally recognized Serbia's sovereignty while simultaneously placing Kosovo under a U.N. interim administration backed up by NATO-led forces.
A Cabinet member from the pro-EU faction in the coalition government said Serbia's ultimate goal remained membership in the EU despite the row over Kosovo.
"The government's goal remains unchanged _ to achieve formal candidate status (in the EU) by the end of 2008," said Vice Premier Bozidar Djelic. He said anything else would constitute "self-isolation."
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Associated press Writer Nebi Qena from Pristina, Kosovo, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-09 13:34 GMT+08:00