Russia has warned that Kosovo will never become a member of the United Nations or other international organisations, if it declares independence. Moscow was backing its traditional ally Serbia, which is determined to hold onto the breakaway province. As a permanent veto-wielding member of the 15-nation Security Council, which would have to approve Kosovo’s UN membership, Russia would have the power to block any request from Pristina to join the United Nations.
Serbian President Boris Tadic told the Security Council his country would never recognize a sovereign Kosovo, but neither would it use violence to prevent ethnic Albanians there from establishing their own state.
He said: “Nobody has the right to destabilise Serbia and the Balkans by hasty and unilateral decisions which would have unforeseeable consequences for other regions, fraught with problems of ethnic separatism as well.”
However, there was a very different message from Kosovo’s newly-elected prime minister, also at UN headquarters.
Hashim Thaci said Pristina would not wait much longer to declare independence and, as they followed events in New York on television, some in Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority could not agree more.
“We, as a nation, have waited so much, but how much longer?” asked one man, watching TV in a Pristina bar.
“Time is passing by. Our lives are passing by. Everyone is saying the same words. We need Kosovo to be independent very soon. It is unbearable to live like this, a state but not a state.”
Kosovo’s two million Albanians are expected to declare independence sometime after Serbia’s presidential election, the first round of which takes place this weekend.