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Russia to back Serbia in UN Kosovo hearings - Lavrov

RIA Novosti

21:40 05/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will support Serbia's case in UN court hearings on the legitimacy of Kosovo's declaration of independence, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

A total of 62 countries, including major Western powers, have recognized the independence of Serbia's ethnic-Albanian-dominated province, which was declared in February 2008. The rest of the world, including Russia, China and India, considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia.

"We will insist that international law and UN Security Council decisions be respected and any unilateral decisions running counter to the UN Charter and OSCE principles be avoided," Lavrov said after talks in Moscow with his Serbian counterpart, Vuk Jeremic.

Serbia brought the case to the UN's Hague-based International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on Kosovo's unilaterally declared independence.

The hearings will begin on December 1 and will involve the five permanent Security Council members - Russia and China on Serbia's side and the United States, Britain and France supporting Kosovo. Other countries have filed written statements on the case.

Kosovo, Serbia's historic heartland, was administered by the United Nations after the Kosovo war and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

In August 2008, Russia recognized Georgia's breakaway republics Abkhazia and South Ossetia following a brief war with the ex-Soviet Caucasus state triggered by its offensive against Ossetia. The move was seen by many as influenced by Western nations' recognition of Kosovo.

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