The highest UN court has opened hearings into the legality of Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.Serbia launched the legal challenge in the Hague and wants the body to put a stop to the number of countries recognising Kososvo and force Pristina back into talks with Belgrade. Kosovo has been recognised by 63 countries, 22 of which are EU member states. However, Serbia and Russia are fiercely opposed to the move. The Serbs want to see Kosovo as the country’s southern province with a wide autonomy, something Pristina rejected at failed UN talks in 2006/7. Kosovo announced its independence nine years after NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 in a bid to end a brutal crackdown by the forces of then-President Slobodan Milosevic against separatist Kosovo Albanians. Nine days of hearings have been scheduled and 30 nations are due to deliver oral statements.