Serbia readies retaliation against Kosovo separtists

Serbia prepared to adopt retaliatory measures Tuesday against Kosovo and Western countries planning to recognize the province’s expected declaration of independence.

The measures will be adopted at a meeting of Serbia’s National Security Council, a top security body that includes the president, prime minister and other senior officials. They will be kept secret until Kosovo declares independence, possibly next weekend.

The so-called “Action Plan” is believed to include the downgrading of diplomatic ties with countries that recognize the province’s statehood and legal action against them at international courts.

Some Serbian officials have said the retaliatory steps may also include an economic blockade of the province and a ban to prevent ethnic Albanians from Kosovo from entering Serbia.

They said the measures will also encourage Kosovo’s Serb minority, concentrated mostly in the north of the province, to shun the declaration of independence and formally keep their territories under Belgrade’s control, de facto partitioning of the province.

Serbia’s leadership hopes the measures would legally annul the declaration, which is expected to be pronounced by Kosovo’s parliament in the provincial capital, Pristina, possibly Sunday or Monday.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said in a statement Tuesday that Serbia “will in advance cancel out the illegal unilateral creation of a fake state on its territory.”

Serbia wants to keep hold of Kosovo, considered the cradle of its medieval statehood and religion, although it has had no control over the province since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign ended a crackdown against ethnic Albanian rebels and forced Belgrade to pull out.

The U.S. and most EU nations support statehood for the U.N.-run province, where 90 percent of the population of 2 million is ethnic Albanian. Serb ally Russia believes that recognizing an independent Kosovo would set a dangerous precedent.

Source: AP

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