Kosovo issue could undermine international system, Serbian leader tells UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Serbia's President Boris Tadić

23 September 2008 – Kosovo’s declaration of independence earlier this year directly contravenes international law and threatens the duty to respect State sovereignty and territorial integrity which underpin the United Nations Charter, Serbia’s President told the General Assembly today.

For the Serbian people, Kosovo “stands at the crucible of our identity,” Boris Tadić said at the annual high-level debate. “It is the essential link between our proud national past and our proud national future. It is what ties the living tradition of Serbia to itself today.”

The declaration of independence of Kosovo by ethnic Albanian authorities, he said, “amounts to an attempt at partitioning a Member State of the United Nations against its will, and with disregard for the firm opposition of the Security Council, in order to appease a volatile and threatening ethnic minority.”

Mr. Tadić said that, as a result of the “unilateral, illegal illegitimate” move, “the very nature of the international system has been called into question.”

He rejected claims that Kosovo – which has been run by the UN since Western forces drove Yugoslav troops out in 1999 – was a unique case and an exception, labelling its declaration of independence as a “fundamental violation of international law.”

For its part, Serbia has not taken unilateral measures – including the use of force and the imposition of economic sanctions – against its “breakaway province,” the country’s President noted.

The Balkan nation has submitted a resolution to the General Assembly to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

Asking Member States for their support, Mr. Tadić cautioned that “to vote against means to accept that nothing could be done when secessionists in whichever part of the world proclaim the uniqueness of their cause, and claim exception to the universal scope of international law.”

“Such an attitude could lead to the end of the United Nations system as we know it,” he added.

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