Tensions flared anew in the Balkans on Thursday, with Kosovo declaring victory and Serbia pledging to fight on after the International Court of Justice ruled that the breakaway republic’s 2008 secession did not violate international law.
“The court today gave the right answer,” Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told The Washington Times hours after the court’s announcement, adding that now “no country in the world has reason to delay the decision to recognize the independence of Kosovo.”
The court’s opinion sent shock waves through Belgrade, which had staked much on the outcome. It was at Serbia’s behest that the U.N. General Assembly referred the Kosovo question to the International Court of Justice in October 2008.
“Serbia will never recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo,” he said Thursday, “since we believe that unilateral and ethnically motivated secession is not in line with U.N. principles.”
Before Thursday, the Republic of Kosovo had been recognized against Serbia’s will by 69 U.N. member states - including the United States and most other Western nations - and that number was expected to grow over the coming weeks.
“Accordingly, it concludes that the declaration of independence of the 17th of February 2008 did not violate general international law.”
“We call on all states to move beyond the issue of Kosovo’s status and engage constructively in support of peace and stability in the Balkans,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. “And we call on those states that have not yet done so to recognize Kosovo.”