Serbian lawmakers reaffirm claim on Kosovo, vow to never recognize Kosovo as independent

Published July 27, 2010

| Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serb lawmakers passed a resolution Tuesday vowing that their country will never recognize Kosovo as an independent state, despite a U.N. court ruling backing the independence declaration by the former Serbian province.

As expected, Serbia's 250-member parliament overwhelmingly approved the motion with 192 votes in favor, 26 against and two abstentions after a heated debate during which the opposition blasted the government for "the diplomatic debacle" before the World Court.

The emergency session was held after the International Court of Justice dealt Serbia's struggle to retain Kosovo a major blow by ruling last week that the former province's 2008 independence declaration was legal.

Serbia lost control of the territory during a 1998-99 war against ethnic Albanian rebels and the ensuing NATO air bombardment that led to an international administration of Kosovo.

The parliament resolution called for "peaceful negotiations" for a lasting solution. Kosovo officials have repeatedly rejected any further talks with Serbia on Kosovo's independence.

Serbian President Boris Tadic told the parliament his country will seek new talks on Kosovo at the U.N. General Assembly in September and will try to halt more international recognition of the state before the gathering.

Tadic said Serbia will seek a compromise solution, and will not wage another war over Kosovo — rejecting such suggestions by some nationalist lawmakers.

"We are in a very difficult situation ... but we won't beat the war drums," Tadic said. "We cannot protect our interests in Kosovo without integration into the European Union and good relations with the United States, Russia and China."

Kosovo's statehood so far has won backing from 69 countries, including the U.S. and most EU nations. But many countries in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly are still hesitant, some fearing it could embolden their own separatist movements.

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Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade contributed to this report.

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