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Dec 27, 2007 19:02 EEST
BELGRADE (Serbia), December 27 (SeeNews) – Serbia's parliament has overwhelmingly approved a resolution declaring that the country cannot sign an agreement to join the European Union if it has to give up its volatile, U.N.-run province of Kosovo.
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told the chamber that Serbia can only enter into international agreements in its integrity, not dismembered, but as a whole, the government said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The territorial integrity resolution stipulates that Serbia cannot sign international agreements, including a possible European Union accession agreement, if they threaten the country’s sovereignty, the statement added.
“To all members of parliament and citizens I give clear guarantees that according to the existing Constitution regulations Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia,” Kostunica said. Kosovo and Metohija is what Serbs call the region, with Metohija being a geographical and historical name. Serbs regard the area as the cradle of their statehood and religion.
Kosovo leaders repeatedly said they will proclaim early next year unilateral independence regardless of Serbia’s position, while Serbia warned it might freeze links with every country which recognises the independence.
Legally still part of Serbia, Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO bombs drove out Serb forces amid inter-ethnic fighting. Serbs oppose any form of independence for the province, while Kosovo's 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority insists on it.
A new round of talks on its status, which started in September under the mediation of representatives from the U.S., Russia and the EU, failed to bring a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina. Serbia offers autonomy for the province, while Kosovo demands nothing less than independence.
After the talks failed, EU leaders agreed to send a European Security and Defence Policy mission to Kosovo, amid expectations it will declare independence early next year despite the opposition of Serbia and its ally Russia.
A Western-backed, EU-implemented independence plan is seen by analysts as the most likely option for the southern Serbian province. But the plan, devised by U.N. envoy and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, has already been rejected by Serbia and Russia.
According to the Serb resolution, parliament requires that the government ensures that any international agreement, including a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU , should be a part of preserving Serbia’s sovereignty.
The Balkan country and the 27-member bloc initialed last month an SAA, the first step towards eventual membership.
The resolution was endorsed in a 220-14 vote with three abstentions in the 250-seat parliament.
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