Serbia has offered highest possible autonomy to Kosovo

Published on January 8, 2007, The Financial Times

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

By Ivan Vujacic

Sir, Senator Joe Biden ("Opponents of a new Kosovo must be stopped", January 3) proposes recognising independence without sovereignty (because it is not ready) for Kosovo, currently a province of Serbia, under United Nations administration.

He believes this "could yield a victory for Muslim democracy" and provide a "much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim partnership". The impediments to this outcome are "extremists" in Belgrade and Moscow who will "conspire" to prevent Kosovo's independence.

For anyone following the situation, it is difficult to agree that extremists are in power in Serbia. Since the democratic revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia has been radically transformed economically, politically and has had major achievements in the strengthening of human and minority rights.

It has had several elections that have produced governments that are committed to European and Atlantic integration. It has offered the highest possible autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia in the negotiations on its future status. Surely, this is not extremism.

The truth of the matter is that Kosovo has a dismal record regarding basic security, the rule of law and respect for property and human rights for non-Albanians. Democracy should be universal and not ethnic, nor based on religion. Should the threat of violence be rewarded by a quick move to independence or is Kosovo just a propaganda tool for the Muslim world as Senator Biden seems to suggest?

Serbia expects that the principles of international law and the UN Charter should be adhered to. It does not believe that a democratic nation should be dismembered. It has stated so publicly. Surely, this is not conspiracy.

Ivan Vujacic,

Ambassador of Serbia to the US

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