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news 12 Mar 14

Russia Stance on Kosovo Unchanged Despite Crimea

Russia has reassured Serbia that it still remains opposed to Kosovo's independence - despite its apparent support for the secession of the Crimean region from Ukraine.

Beta, BIRN Belgrade

The Russian embassy in Serbia has released a statement saying that Moscow is sticking to its stance of not recognizing Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

The statement comes after the assembly of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea on Tuesday adopted a declaration of independence, which cited the precedent of Kosovo's own independence.

The declaration said that members of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Crimea and the City Council of Sevastopol had made their decision "based on the UN Charter and other international documents that recognize the right of peoples to self-determination and on the [2010] opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo".

The Russian foreign ministry has declared Crimea's Declaration of Independence "absolutely legitimate", also noting that the document, among other things, had its basis in the UN Court of Justice's resolution on Kosovo of July 22, 2010.

The Court ruling said that "adoption of the declaration of independence of the 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law because international law contains no "prohibition on declarations of independence."

So far, Kosovo has been recognized by 107 out of 193 UN member states, including the US and most EU members. However, Russia has strongly opposed Kosovo's independence, citing the need to uphold the territorial integrity of Serbia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that in the case of Crimea, the Western powers were guilty of double standards in opposing the independence of Crimea.

Russian forces have meanwhile effectively seized control of the Crimea peninsula ahead of an independence referendum planned for March 16.

Most of the local population are ethnic Russians, although Crimea is also home to large Ukrainian and Tatar minorities.

Serbia’s outgoing government has maintained a neutral stance on the crisis over Crimea in an attempt to preserve good relations with both Russia, Ukraine and the EU.

 

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