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Serbia Appeals For African Backing Against Kosovo

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic (file photo)

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic (file photo)

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -- Serbia has appealed to African states to back its efforts to block diplomatic recognition of Kosovo independence, warning the continent's own multiethnic countries could be threatened by the move.

With a 90 percent Albanian majority, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but its government does not control the north, inhabited mainly by Serbs who do not recognize Pristina institutions and consider Serbia their home.

"I have come here today to plead that you maintain your principled reservation on the Kosovo issue," Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told delegates at the opening of the African Union's annual summit in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

A number of nations send observer delegations to the AU's annual summit.

Jeremic told the African leaders that independence for Kosovo would be "a dangerous threat" to a continent with so many rebel groups and civil wars.

"Imagine how many states of this great continent would be affected by the legitimization of forcible partition?" Jeremic said. "The borders of every multiethnic state could be threatened, producing instability in all corners of Africa.

Serbia has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to give an opinion on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence, which has been recognized by 63 states.

About 10,000 NATO troops and 2,000 police, judges and prosecutors from the European Union remain in Kosovo to oversee the Balkan country's fragile peace.