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President Marovic Warns Against Kosovo Independence

The president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, warned against independence for Kosovo today, saying such a move would destabilize the Balkans.

Svetozar Marovic said that recent violence in Kosovo, a Serbian province, demonstrated how careful and responsible any decisions affecting the mainly ethnic-Albanian province must be.

Kosovo is part of Serbia but under United Nations administration. Ethnic clashes last week between Serbs and Albanians left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Vojislav Kostunica, the prime minister of Serbia and Montenegro, was in Brussels today looking for European Union support for a plan to decentralize power in Kosovo.

Kostunica suggested Kosovo's Serbs should be given more autonomous areas inside the province, further "cantonization," as Kostunica put it.

"Actually, that idea is not new and it is not only something that originated in Serbia and Montenegro. [It] is an idea that for the first time [was] mentioned by the Council of Europe -- how through different forms of autonomy, decentralization, one may support [the] further democratization of Kosovo and Metokhia, and [protect the rights] of the Serbian and non-Albanian community. It is for the sake of human rights."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana rejected the cantonization idea but said he would travel to Kosovo tomorrow to see how international help could improve the safety of Serbs and other minorities there.

European Commission President Romano Prodi told Kostunica that his country could not expect closer ties to the EU and NATO unless Serbia and Montenegro improve cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal.

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