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2701Serb president in stark Kosovo warning

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  • Greg Cannon
    Feb 9, 2008

      Friday, 8 February 2008, 22:52 GMT
      Serb head in stark Kosovo warning
      Jonathan Marcus
      BBC Diplomatic correspondent, Munich

      Serbian President Boris Tadic has warned of an
      escalation in conflicts if Kosovo declares
      independence as expected later this month.

      Mr Tadic said he could not accept the dismemberment of
      his country and called for renewed talks on the issue.

      The pro-Western leader was speaking at the opening of
      an annual security conference in Munich.

      The US and most members of the EU say they will
      support independence for Kosovo's ethnic Albanian

      "Should Serbia be partitioned against its will... it
      could in turn result in the escalation of many
      existing conflicts, the reactivation of a number of
      frozen conflicts, and the instigation of who knows how
      many new conflicts," said Mr Tadic.

      While he described Kosovan independence as
      unacceptable, Mr Tadic added that he did not want to
      see Serbia isolated from the EU.

      "There is still time to prevent the situation from
      spiralling needlessly out of control," he told the
      gathering of the world's top security officials,
      urging international talks.

      No good time

      President Tadic is a leader who stands between a rock
      and a hard place.

      He is already being buffeted by an internal political
      crisis in Serbia, which he has admitted could well
      lead to new parliamentary elections in May.

      And now the Kosovan independence issue presents him
      with a major national dilemma.

      Many diplomats in Munich expect the declaration of
      independence to be made around 17 February.

      Mr Tadic's efforts to steer his country on the path
      towards the EU and the West were appreciated by the
      Munich audience, made up of prominent US and European
      policy makers. The president received warm applause,
      but is unlikely to have swayed many minds.

      Western diplomats here say that months of talks have
      produced little.

      Mindful of Russia's opposition, there is no good time
      for Kosovo to declare independence, one insider told
      me - it might as well happen sooner rather than later.