February 14, 2012 452 Lexime
Serbs in northern Kosovo begin voting today in a referendum asking whether or not they accept the authority of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rulers. Leaders from the European Union, and other Western nations, and even Serbia, have urged Kosovo’s Serbs not to go ahead with the two-day referendum.
Pristina, KOSOVO – by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | The IndependenT NewsweeK |
Serbian President Boris Tadic said the vote will “not contribute to dialogue” between Belgrade and Pristina. Serbia is seeking EU membership, and Brussels wants Belgrade to improve relations with Pristina.
The commander of NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo, General Erhard Drews, said the referendum could stoke violence by extremist Albanians.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia four years ago. It has been recognized by most Western nations, but Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs refuse to. About 40,000 ethnic Serbs live in Kosovo, mostly in the north.
More than 80 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU’s 27 members, have recognised the state which is the last to emerge from the remains of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However Russia, Serbia’s old-time ally, has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution on the country’s independence and emergence as a free state.
compiled from agency reports