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Russia would veto UN resolution on Kosovo independence

RIA Novosti

21/12/2007 10:08 MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said the country would veto a United Nations resolution granting independence to Serbia's Albanian-dominated breakaway province of Kosovo.

"If a decision to approve a unilateral proclamation of independence by Kosovo is made, the veto will undoubtedly be applied," Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the popular Russian daily Vremya Novostei published on Friday.

"It is not that Russia wants to create obstacles or feel important. A veto is an important part of international law, which has helped avoid major global conflicts since World War II," he said.

Lavrov also said that if the European Union recognizes Kosovo's independence "ignoring existing UN legal mechanisms," and "divide Serbia, tearing out Kosovo and depriving ethnic Serbs of their right to express their opinions," it will be putting itself outside the international legal framework.

The UN Security Council failed on Wednesday to bridge divisions over the future of Kosovo. The province's drive for independence has been backed by the West and firmly opposed by Serbia and its ally Russia, which has a veto on the Security Council as a permanent member.

Western nations also said the EU and NATO should take over police duties in Kosovo from the United Nations, which administered the region since NATO's 1999 bombing campaign that ended a conflict between Serb forces and ethnic Albanian separatists.

Some other Security Council members, including Cyprus and Greece, have also voiced opposition to a unilateral declaration of sovereignty by Kosovo, fearing this could set a precedent for other separatist regions.

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