Russia and the US are going head to head in the Hague over Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence.
Arguments over its legality are being heard at the International Court of Justice.
Sixty-three nations already recognise the independence of the former Serbian-controlled region but Serbia’s ally, Russia, says it contravenes UN resolutions.
Kiril Gevorgian, Russian ambassador to the Netherlands said: “The regime established by the resolution safeguards the territorial integrity of Serbia, and precludes any unilateral action in Kosovo, either by its Albanian community or by Belgrade.”
The United States believes Kosovo’s secession was the will of the people and resulted from the failure of Serbia and Kosovo to reach a political solution after their 1998 war.
Harold Hongju Koh, legal adviser to the US State Department, gave a counter point of view:
“We therefore urge this court to leave Kosovo’s declaration undisturbed, either by refusing to issue an opinion or by simply answering in the affirmative the question presented: whether Kosovo’s declaration of independence accords with international law.”
Until Kosovo’s leadership, representing two million ethnic Kosovan Albanians, signed their declaration, a UN force had been keeping the peace between them and the 120,000 Serbs living in the province.
UN sponsored talks, which might have led to a form of semi-autonomy from Serbia, then failed and Pristina went it alone.