Sri Lanka dubs Kosovo independence a threat to security

February 18th, 2008 - 2:39 pm ICT by admin  

By P.K. Balachandran
Colombo, Feb 18 (IANS) Sri Lanka has opposed Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia saying that it has set an unmanageable precedent and posed a grave threat to international security. “We note that the declaration of independence was made without the consent of the majority of the people of Serbia. The unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo could set an unmanageable precedent in the conduct of international relations, the established global order of sovereign states and could thus pose a grave threat to international peace and security,” the foreign ministry said Sunday in a statement.

It said that the secession was a violation of the UN Charter, which enshrined the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states. Furthermore, the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999 had reaffirmed the world body’s commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states in the region.

“This action is particularly regrettable since all efforts at reaching a negotiated political settlement on the future status of Kosovo as envisaged by Resolution 1244 have not been exhausted,” the ministry said.

Russia and Serbia oppose Kosovo’s independence. The US, EU and France have come out in support.

Kosovo is an Albanian-Muslim majority enclave in largely Christian Serbia and has been fighting for independence since the former Yugoslavia broke up into ethnic units after the collapse of Communism.

Russia and Serbia are worried about the fate of the more than 100,000 Serbs in Kosovo. But Kosovo and the US say that there is no danger to them.

Sri Lanka is worried that a successful secessionist movement in Kosovo may result in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) succeeding in getting independence for the Tamil speaking north and east of Sri Lanka which Tamil separatists call “Eelam”. More than 70,000 people have died in the armed conflict over “Eelam” in the last two decades.

The fact that Western powers are supporting Kosovo’s independence is an added cause for Sri Lanka worry, because the West, led by the US, is urging Colombo to go slow on the war and talk peace with the LTTE.

The West has also been criticising Sri Lanka for violating human rights in the guise of fighting Tamil Tigers terrorism.

Sri Lankan political commentators are divided on what Colombo should do post-Kosovo.

Writing in the Sunday Leader, columnist Gamini Weerakoon feared that the anti-West stance of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government could prove to be counterproductive.

But Dayan Jayatilleke, the island’s envoy to the UN, has urged the government to stand firm and not to withdraw the armed forces from the north and east under pressure from the international community on any account.

He recalled that the leaders of Yugoslavia had committed a cardinal error by withdrawing government forces from Kosovo and allowing an international force to be stationed there.

Kosovo was put under a UN mandate. The West put Kosovo under tutelage for sometime and then “encouraged with a nod and a wink, to secede completely”, the diploamt wrote in the Sunday Island.

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