Allowing secession in multi-ethnic States ‘bad precedent’ at U.N., ‘produces instability’ — Serbia

March 18, 2010 10:14 pm 

MANILA, March 18 —- The Republic of Serbia, the former Yugoslavia, has posited anew that any unilateral declaration of independence or secession — such as what its province of Kosovo did in 2008 – and its recognition by such powerful nations as the United States "sets a dangerous precedent" and demeans the process of dialogue and negotiations espoused by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the United Nations as a whole.

H.E. Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic made this observation this afternoon in an informal meeting with journalists covering the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting (SNAMMM) in interfaith dialogues and cooperation for peace and development, which ends Thursday. He advocated the same at the SNAMMM plenary.

Jeremic said he expressed the same position in his bilateral meeting on Wednesday with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto G. Romulo. “The issue dominated the meeting,” he added, as he noted that it is an issue of secession that bears similarity with that in Mindanao.

”But Serbia is happy that the Philippines did not recognize the Kosovo secessionist move,” he told reporters, with the Government knowing fully well that to have done so was to have devalued Manila’s dialogue process on Mindanao.

In a separate conversation on the issue of separatism, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Treki told the Philippines News Agency that he does “not think that anyone will bring it to U.N. attention” but that he “himself would encourage more and more dialogues and patient understanding.” He was referring to Libya-brokered peace talks in Mindanao involving Muslims.

Jeremic, who headed his delegation to the meeting, also reminded that the defunct Yugoslavia is one of the four founding-countries of NAM, when the late Marshall Josef Tito was its leader. The first NAM Summit was held in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

Jeremic said he hopes that the 50th anniversary of that historic meeting will be celebrated next year, which the city plans on hosting, to be coordinated by current NAM chair Egypt. “We are proud of the role that we played in the shaping of NAM,” the 35-year-old Foreign Minister said.

He said in the plenary address that the 2011 gathering “would be a fitting tribute to the bequest left to us by the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. Belgrade is a city generations of NAM members recall with great fondness — a city where a tangible stamp on the 20th century was made.”

However, the new Republic of Serbia did not inherit Yugoslavia’s NAM regular membership and Serbia is at present an observer-country of the NAM.

In the aftermath of the breakup of Eastern Europe, when the so-called Cold War Era ended around 1991, Yugoslavia became Serbia-Montenegro, and split further into the present Republic of Serbia.

And then in 2008, as Jeremic narrated it, the southern province of Kosovo with a majority population of two million ethnic Albanians, many of them Muslims, came out with a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). Jeremic called this an “illegal attempt…to change the borders of Serbia.”

Kosovo’s UDI was readily embraced by such powers as the United States (“the last biggest blunder of the President Bush administration,” he interjected), France and the United Kingdom—all Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan also recognized Kosovo.

Surprisingly, Malaysia, which facilitates current peace talks negotiations between the Philippine Government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), also supported Kosovo independence.

The two other UNSC permanents, China and Russia, did not recognize Kosovo. Jeremic further said “80 percent of NAM’s (118-strong) membership such as Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa,” allied against recognition.

In his plenary address, Jeremic said his country has brought the issue to the UNGA for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “to rule on the legality of Kosovo’s attempt at secession.”

The ICJ’s ruling is expected this year, and Jeremic said he is “very optimistic” that the ICJ will rule in Serbia’s favor.

Addressing the NAM delegations and the UN as well, Jeremic pointed out that “it is crucial that you maintain your principle stance (of dialogue and principled negotiations in peacemaking), for this case will constitute a strong precedent.”

This will be the first such case brought before the ICJ and the result, Jeremic said, will determine how the defiance of a country’s national Constitution by an ethnic minority and the partition of a UN member-State in peacetime will be looked at.

A negative ICJ ruling would “truly set a bad precedent,” which goes against the grain of the UNSC, Jeremic repeated.

“Imagine how many countries represented in this chamber would be affected by the legitimization of secession? The borders of every multi-ethnic state could be threatened, producing instability in all parts of the globe,” he said. (PNAfeature)

V3/LAP/GJB

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