Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kosovo Serb Leaders Fault Serbia On UN Resolution

A NATO soldier patrols on a bridge in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, in July.
PRISTINA -- Ethnic Serb leaders in riven northern Kosovo are expressing feelings of betrayal by Belgrade after Serbia supported a new UN resolution on Kosovo, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Some suggest the development will result in greater pressure on Russia to take a more aggressive diplomatic line on the question of Kosovo's two-year-old declaration of independence.

Milan Ivanovic, a Kosovar Serb leader from the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, called the resolution to open dialogue "another defeat for the current Serbian regime regarding Kosovo."

"It is just a continuation of losses that have happened over the last two years," Ivanovic said.

Serbia has bitterly opposed international recognition of the UN-administered region's unilateral declaration of sovereignty in February 2008.

Milan Ivanovic calls the resolution "another defeat" for Belgrade.
Another Kosovar Serb leader, Momir Kasalovic, warned that ethnic Serbs will appeal for help from Russia as a result of disappointment with Belgrade. He said they will ask Moscow to open an office in northern Kosovo that would be part of Russia's diplomatic mission to Serbia.

Serbia lost de facto control over Kosovo in 1999 when NATO waged a bombing campaign to halt an armed conflict between Serbia and the territory's ethnic Albanian majority.

The United Nations maintains a "status-neutral mission" in Kosovo.

Disappointment with Belgrade in the wake of this week's resolution was also expressed by some ordinary Kosovar Serbs in Mitrovica.

"I feel ashamed and at the same time I am disappointed with the government of Serbia, which obeyed the United States and other Western countries [over Kosovo and the resolution]," said Radivoje Negojevic. "Serbia turned its back on Russia and other allies."

The United States and around 70 other countries recognize Kosovo's independence.

The resolution passed by the UN General Assembly on September 9 acknowledges the advisory opinion of the UN's International Court of Justice on Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, which said that no international laws were broken when Kosovo declared its sovereignty.

The resolution also welcomes the European Union as the main body to facilitate dialogue between officials from Kosovo and Serbia, which along with Russia and the majority of the UN's 192-nation assembly does not recognize Kosovo's independence.

Kosovar Serbs protested in the southern part of the divided town of Mitrovica in July.
Serbia originally submitted a different resolution that took a tougher line on Kosovo. But after pressure from several EU countries, especially Germany and Great Britain, Serbian President Boris Tadic agreed on new wording.

Kosovo's Serbs -- who live almost exclusively in the northern part of Kosovo -- have resisted efforts by Pristina and the international community to integrate into Kosovar institutions. Parallel Serbian structures in the north are the main institutions in that part of Kosovo, even though those structures are considered illegal by the Kosovar government.

The situation is somewhat different with Kosovar Serbs living south of the Ibar River. Many participated in last year's local elections and are active in the decentralization process as laid out by the UN's so-called Ahtisaari Plan.

Ethnic Serbs represent between 4 and 7 percent of Kosovo's 1.9 million people.

compiled in Prague from reports by RFE/RL's Balkan Service
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.