New York: The UN General Assembly has passed a landmark resolution calling for dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, but only after Serbia sparked a new diplomatic dispute over its breakaway neighbour.
Serbia demanded that the president, prime minister and foreign minister of Kosovo be ordered out of the assembly, forcing UN ambassadors from Britain and France to negotiate a settlement to the tussle so the resolution could be passed yesterday.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008, after being under UN administration since the 1998-99 war by Serbian forces against ethnic Albanian separatists.
Serbia has refused ever since to recognise the split.
Serbia had planned a hardline resolution on Kosovo but softened it under pressure from the European Union which had warned it would be strongly opposed.
A new joint Serbian-EU resolution did not mention the status of Kosovo. The EU agreed in turn to foster "a process of dialogue between the parties" to bolster security in the Balkans and help Serbia and Kosovo in their efforts to join the EU.
The start of the assembly debate was held up for two-and-a-half hours when Serbia`s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic saw Kosovo`s President Fatmir Sejdiu and its prime minister and foreign minister in the assembly hall.
Jeremic said they were not from a sovereign state and should not be present. The assembly president told him that the Kosovo officials were guests of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.
Jeremic said in supporting the resolution, that "Serbia does not and shall not recognise the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo”.
But he added that he hoped the resolution "would help create an atmosphere conducive to the creation of a comprehensive compact of peace between Serbs and Albanians achieved through good faith dialogue”.