Serbia Demands Accountability in Kosovo

Posted August 30th, 2011 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Serbia says the United Nations needs to hold Pristina accountable for creating instability in northern Kosovo.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic asked the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to reject what he described as Kosovo's unilateralism, saying it must be “rejected and condemned in the clearest possible terms.”

Jeremic also said a failure to confront Pristina will only further destabilize the region.

His comments follow a statement by Serbian President Boris Tadic Monday that he would not recognize Kosovo's independence. Speaking in Prague after a meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus, Mr. Tadic said he would accept a European Union Rule of Law for a police mission for Kosovo, but refused to consider independence for the former Serbian province.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO bombing ended a Serbian military crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians. But tens of thousands of Serbs living in northern Kosovo do not recognize Pristina's authority and want to be governed by Belgrade.

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo flared last month when Kosovo's majority ethnic-Albanian government sent special police to take control of northern border crossings. The move ignited unrest leading to casualties on both sides.

Separately Tuesday, the commander of NATO's peacekeeping mission in Kosovo says he expects troop levels to hold steady.

Major General Erhard Buehler told the Associated Press he does not think “there will be further reductions in the near future.”

AP says there are currently 5,000 NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo and that the mission had hoped to reduce that by half by the end of this year.

Earlier this month, Buehler asked for an additional 700 troops to help restore order in northern Kosovo.

In his speech to the U.N. Security Council Tuesday, Foreign Minister Jeremic also thanked EULEX for investigating allegations of organ smuggling inside Kosovo. However, he said EULEX lacks the capacity to do a comprehensive investigation since the smuggling ring includes countries outside Kosovo — in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The U.N. acting special representative for Kosovo on Tuesday said a EULEX task force is now in place and expects to begin work on the organ smuggling probe next month.

The force is charged with investigating reports that former Kosovo rebels, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, trafficked in human organs to raise funds for their fight for independence during the late 1990s.

Mr. Thaci has denied the allegations, calling the report a fabrication designed to malign Kosovo.