Europe

Kosovo border violence on UN Security Council agenda

A Kosovo Serb stands in front of a K-For peacekeepers patrol near Zvecan, 30 July
Image caption Peacekeepers had to be deployed to secure the border area in July

Recent deadly violence in Kosovo is set to be on the agenda as the UN Security Council meets in New York, but there are also new hopes for peace.

Fighting flared in July when Kosovo's authorities sent police into the north, the territory's biggest Serb area.

Serbia, which refuses to accept an independent Kosovo, wants the Security Council to condemn the action.

Elsewhere, Serbia's president said his country recognised the EU's law and justice mission (Eulex) in Kosovo.

Boris Tadic said the issue had arisen at talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visited Belgrade last week.

"In our talks in Belgrade, Angela Merkel's view was that Serbia should secure functioning of the Eulex in all Kosovo and that Belgrade should return to talks with Pristina," he told reporters on Monday after meeting Czech President Vaclav Klaus in Prague.

"Both demands are totally acceptable for Serbia. We want dialogue as we have initiated it and we have insisted on it, and we did our best to bring Eulex to Kosovo and help it perform its mission in a way that would be neutral in relation with its [Kosovo's] status."

Officials in Serbia, a prospective member of the EU, have in the past stressed the role of the UN in administering Kosovo until the question of its status is resolved.

Expectations high

The Security Council is meeting on Tuesday to hear a quarterly update on the situation in Kosovo from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

But this session is the most eagerly awaited for some time as it comes during a period of heightened ethnic tension in the territory, BBC Balkans correspondent Mark Lowen reports from Belgrade.

When the Kosovan government sent police into the north to take control of border posts with Serbia that had not previously been under its authority, the Serb population in the north rebelled, leading to clashes in which a policeman died.

The Nato force in Kosovo intervened, mediating between the two sides.

Now Russia, a staunch ally of Serbia, has prepared a draft document to be presented to the Security Council condemning what it calls the use of force by the Kosovan government and calling for international institutions in Kosovo, such as Nato, to remain impartial.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who will attend the UN session, says he hopes the majority of countries will support the document.

Kosovo's Western backers, including the US, France and Britain, are likely to put up a stiff response but all sides will call for calm, says our correspondent.

Three and a half years since Kosovo declared independence, it is an issue that still polarises opinion, he adds.

Less than half of UN members have recognised the split and with ethnic tension remaining, it is far from being resolved, our correspondents says.

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