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H.E. Mr. Boris Tadić, President

23 September 2008

Statement Summary

BORIS TADIC, President of Serbia, stressed the need to reconfirm the conviction of United Nations founders that international law, based on the equality of States, must supplant the use of force to settle international differences. He noted the importance of respecting the territorial integrity of sovereign States, linking it to the danger inherent in "the unilateral, illegal and illegitimate declaration of independence by the ethnic Albanian authorities of our southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, [.] after walking away from the negotiating table". Those authorities, he said, had believed that abandoning negotiations would lead to independence by the imposition of a deadline for negotiations from without, calling that deadline an impediment to serious talks as it removed any incentive to negotiate in good faith.

He said that action set a dangerous precedent, and called the very nature of the international system into question, noting that "there are dozens of Kosovos throughout the world, just waiting for secession to be legitimized". Further, he stated that: "Many existing conflicts could escalate, frozen conflicts [.] reignite, and new ones be instigated." He rejected the claim that Kosovo was a unique case, and said that no one had the right to declare exceptions to international law, especially in defiance of the Security Council's position. Despite political turmoil, he said, Serbia had opted for a peaceful and diplomatic approach to the issue, as a result of which, he noted, a vast majority of Member States had not recognized Kosovo.

Having chosen to use legal channels, he said, Serbia submitted a resolution for consideration by the Assembly's current session, asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the question: "Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?" Sending the question to the Court would prevent the crisis from serving as a precedent anywhere in the world where secessionist ambitions were harboured. The Court's advisory opinion would also serve as a politically neutral, yet judicially authoritative guidance to many countries still deliberating on an approach to Kosovo's declaration.

Support for the resolution would affirm the right of any Member State to bring a question it considered of vital importance before the Court, while a vote against it would deny the right of any country to seek judicial recourse through the United Nations system, he said. It would further allow secessionists anywhere in the world to claim their case as an exception to international law. Serbia would remain a good-faith partner in the interim administration of Kosovo during the Court deliberations. He also spoke of the need for a reconfigured, status-neutral international civilian presence in the province under United Nations authority, as defined by Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

He expressed support for the European Union's commitment to institution-building in Kosovo, and welcomed Europe's deepening engagement with Serbia. It was vital, he said, that Europe's mandate be approved by the Security Council. He noted that Serbia's central strategic priority was accession to the European Union, not only for reasons of geography, heritage and economic prosperity, but also because of commonly held values. He also noted Serbia's commitment to full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to restoring and deepening friendships that Yugoslavia had made across the globe during the post-World War II period, and to contributing to a more equitable global community and advancing the democratization of international relations, economic and social development and human rights.

[Source: GA/10749]