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Serbian Foreign Ministry

Serbian Foreign Ministry concerned about Caucuses

27. August 2008. | 07:19

Source: EMportal, Beta, B92

On Aug. 26, none of Serbia's top officials would comment on Russia's decision to recognize the Georgian separatist regions of Southern Ossetia and Abkhazia.The Serbian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that it was monitoring the development of events in the Caucuses with concern.

On Aug. 26, none of Serbia's top officials would comment on Russia's decision to recognize the Georgian separatist regions of Southern Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that it was monitoring the development of events in the Caucuses with concern.

The Democratic Party of Serbia was the only party to feature a reaction.

"Officials of the Republic of Serbia have repeatedly warned that any unilateral declaration of Kosovo and Metohija's independence, and the recognition of this illegal act, could have the character of a precedent and destabilize other regions in the world," a statement from the Serbian Foreign Ministry said.

The statement added that "with regret we can conclude that these predictions are becoming true."

"Official Belgrade honors international law and adheres to the principle of preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of internationally-recognized states, the Republic of Serbia foremost."

The Russian embassy in Belgrade declined on Aug. 26 to comment on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to recognize Southern Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, or the possible repercussions of the decision in Kosovo.

Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Konuzin assessed late on Tuesday that Russia's recognition of the seceded Georgian autonomous regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would not weaken Serbia's positions in defending Kosovo, and pointed out that Moscow would continue to strongly reflect the stands of Belgrade.

As far as Kosovo is concerned, I hold that nothing has changed in that respect, the Russian ambassador told Tanjug. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, this territory is a territory of Serbia and its violent secession from the rest of the country is impermissible, he underlined. Russia will continue to strongly back the stands of Serbia as far as Kosovo is concerned, the Russian ambassador added.

Konuzin assessed that the fact that Russia had recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would not weaken Serbia's positions in defending Kosovo and Metohija. Of course, there are certain analogies and this has been a topic of discussions for some time now, particularly since Russia warned that the unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence and recognition of that independence created a precedent, but, unfortunately, no one would listen to us, the ambassador added.

The Democratic Party of Serbia said that Russia's decision to grant independence to Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia "is a natural reaction to the policy of force being waged by the United States of America."

"We cannot forget that in our struggle to defend Kosovo, Russia has been a faithful ally to Serbia, by upholding international law," the party said.

The Democratic Party of Serbia reiterated that the U.S. and "leading countries of the West" had violated every existing international legal norm and U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 by "declaring Kosovo independent."

Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija president Zvonimir Stevic, also a member of the Socialist Party of Serbia, said on Aug. 26 that Russia's recognition of the separatist regions in Georgia came as a result of some states recognizing Kosovo and Metohija.

Stevic told reporters in Kosovska Mitrovica that the decision had resulted directly from violations of international law and the events in Kosovo and Metohija.

Before the official Serbian reaction came, analysts were commenting Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Belgrade's position in the crisis.

Dušan Lazić, of the Forum for International Relations, said today that Russia’s move could put Serbia in a difficult position.

He believes that Serbia could regret both following in Moscow’s footsteps, as it would go against its argument of territorial integrity, and staying aside, as it could get into its main Kosovo ally's bad books.

Lazić however urges that Belgrade should not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia because it would be violating its own principled policy regarding Kosovo.

“If Serbia continues taking steps, and as we know, it is doing so in the UN with its demand for an International Court of Justice opinion on Kosovo, I think that Serbia must consistently follow that line and not make any rash decisions, because the Russian stance is the same as Serbia’s in regards to Kosovo,” he said.

In any case, this analyst believes, it is still possible that Moscow will call on Belgrade to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian republics.

If that happens, Lazić said that the government will have to answer with solid arguments, explaining why it is not in Serbia’s best interest to recognize the violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity.

“Since they are being linked in certain way, you cannot defend territorial integrity in one case and in the other case support self-determination and the proclamation of an independent country,” he continued.

“Straying from that principled position is the best example of double, and triple standards, used by powerful countries in today’s international relations,” Lazić said.

However, he does not expect that today's decision will change Moscow’s position on the Kosovo Albanians' unilateral declaration of independence.

“Russia’s stance on Kosovo is a stance based on the interests of Russia, and it is primarily a message to Moscow's chief partners in the West, and those powers it is, if I may say, up against, in its international relations,” the analyst said.

Before Russia took its stance that Kosovo's independence should not be recognized, they very successfully built in their own interests into that position. These interest haven’t changed, and I cannot think of why the Russian position would change now,” Lazić concluded. 


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