Serbia to react to any unilateral acknowledgment of Kosovo independence

Originally published
Belgrade, June 16, 2007 - State Secretary for Kosovo-Metohija Dusan Prorokovic said in an interview for today's edition of the Vecernje Novosti daily that Serbia will react to any unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence, quoting the Constitution and not endangering its vital interests.

The government's official web site gives excerpts of the interview.

The Serbian government's reaction to the possibility of unilateral recognition of Kosovo-Metohija's independence:

Should Kosovo declare independence, and some other states recognise it, the status of Resolution 1244 will be put into question, and without the Resolution we are formally and legally back to June 1999. The Serbian government could react at that moment, as it would react to any other separatist activity on its territory. The reaction would be a legal and political one, and others should ponder the consequences of such a reaction.

Does this stance bring the country into danger from isolation?

I do not think so. If you say that Serbia will not break its diplomatic relations and similar, everyone will ask you, "Why doesn't anyone recognise Kosovo, then?" But, if you say you will react, then they accuse you of pushing the country into self-isolation. We will naturally not go into self-isolation.

What of severing diplomatic relations with countries which would acknowledge Kosovo-Metohija's independence?

This is the ultimate measure and a very expensive one, which is rarely resorted to. I personally advocate that these states be classified into several categories. There are, namely, charging states, which have been lobbying for independence for seven or eight years now, but also those which will enter the process unwillingly and under pressure.

Will a resolution for Kosovo status be reached soon?

We are not any nearer a solution for Kosovo-Metohija's status - the only way out of this situation is to continue the talks. We expect that the US exert pressure on the ethnic Albanian side so that the talks could resume. After everything that took place, it is illusory to expect that anyone except the US could use such pressure.

What of the possibility that the US unilaterally acknowledge the province's independence?

I would not do any bidding regarding the unilateral recognition. However, it seems to me there are two "streams" in Washington. We received two diametrically opposed statements just this Friday from there: McCormack's statement saying that "the US must not play with the Russian veto in the Security Council" and Burns' which says that "the only thing left to discuss is the date for declaring the independence".

Can Serbia have any influence on these "streams"?

Serbia can hardly influence those relations. However, it can look for its partners throughout the world, not only in Washington.

What is Serbia's goal in all this?

Our basic goal is to reach compromise. We are here actively thinking about what Kosovo future status should be like and how we should organise Serbian-Albanian relations.

As for the last meeting of the Contact Group held in Russia's absence:

The reason behind this meeting was America's wish to see the position of European countries. The EU stated clearly that a new Security Council resolution is necessary. I don't think this is what the US aims for. When you look at the statement issued after the meeting, I think it may be said that the EU stuck to its ground.

How long will Serbia have the Minsitry for Kosovo-Metohija?

For a long time, I think. This is not only about finding a status solution, but about implementing it. Whatever the solution may be, it will be original with lots of details and many sensitive matters. Therefore, I think the Serbian government will be intensively dealing with Kosovo-Metohija for a long stretch of years.

Does the Minsitry also deal with the possibility of an unfavourable turn of events?

No, but such signals usually come from the media, from some "unofficial but well-informed sources", or in the form of threats from representatives of influential international NGOs/ We wish to stimulate and encourage Serbs to remain in Kosovo-Metohija so that not everything should remain just words and patriotism.