[JURIST] The Serbian National Assembly [official website] on Monday voted 192-26 to pass a resolution [press release] that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo as an independent nation. The declaration comes a week after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence did not violate international law [JURIST report]. The resolution was passed during the National Assembly’s Sixth Extraordinary Session [activity report] after 12 hours of debate and stressed the need to maintain Serbian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Additionally, the resolution called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute, which is in line with the Serbian Constitution [text], which expressly prohibits any action to change Serbia’s borders. Also during the parliamentary debate, opposition lawmakers criticized the government for subjecting Serbia to international humiliation. In explaining the resolution, the Serbian government stated:
The Parliament considers that peaceful negotiation should result in a permanent, sustainable and mutually acceptable solution for Kosovo-Metohija, in accordance with the Constitution of Serbia, allowing for a historical reconciliation of the Serbian and Albanian people, as well as peace and stability in the region. The document calls for national unity and the use of all available diplomatic and political means to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. The Parliament expresses its full commitment to achieving national and political unity regarding the preservation of Kosovo-Metohija, and confirms that the Republic of Serbia will never, either explicitly or implicitly, recognise the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo-Metohija.
The government went on to state that it considered all actions of the Kosovo government from the independence declaration onwards to be void and promised to bring the question of Kosovo’s independence before the UN General Assembly [official website] when its session opens in September.
The ICJ issued a non-binding ruling Thursday that Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia [JURIST report] did not violate international law. Serbia had argued that UN Resolution 1244 [text, PDF], which ended the war in Kosovo, solidified the country’s boundaries, which included the southern region of Kosovo. Kosovo argued that the resolution was not meant to exclude the opportunity for secession. The opinion of the court stated that nothing in international law prohibited a unilateral declaration of independence. The ruling could have far-reaching implications for other countries with territories seeking recognition as independent states. Serbia’s position was backed by a majority of UN countries, including Russia, China and Spain, but Kosovo has consistently been supported by the US and most European countries. Serbian President Boris Tadic [official profile] maintained that Serbia will not recognize [statement, in Serbian] Kosovo’s independence, claiming the ICJ ruling was limited only to the question of whether the declaration itself violated international law, and not whether the secession was legal.