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Kosovo: Ethnic Serbs overwhelmingly reject Pristina

last update: February 16, 17:04

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Pristina, 16 Feb. (AKI) - Serbs in northern Kosovo, who oppose independence declared by majority Albanians in 2008, have voted in a referendum almost unanimously against Pristina institutions, referendum a commission said on Thursday.

According to unofficial results, of 35,500 registered voters, 99.74 per cent, voted against accepting Pristina rule, the commission said.

The referendum was held in four Serb municipalities in the north where Serbs make majority population and the turnout was 75.28 per cent, the commission said.

International representatives stationed in Kosovo and Serbian leaders in Belgrade have warned against holding referendum, saying it was illegal and would have no legal bearing.

Kosovo parliament on Wednesday adopted a resolution saying the referendum was illegal and declared it null and void. “The Kosovo parliament considers this referendum a violation of constitutional and legal order of the Republic of Kosovo,” the declaration said.

Kosovo has been recognized by 86 countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 European Union members. But Kosovo Serb leader Dobrosav Dobric told media local Serbs just wanted to reiterate their stands that they don’t want to live under Pristina rule.

“People want to live where their ancestors had lived and that is the Republic of Serbia,” Dobric said. “We could be enslaved by force, but we won’t willingly assimilate and integrate into that state (Kosovo),” he added.

Belgrade opposes Kosovo independence, but has engaged in talks with Pristina to reach some sort of an agreement for the sake of Serbia’s getting a status of an official candidate for European Union membership next month.

Borko Stefanovic, chief Belgrade negotiator, told Tanjug news agency the referendum would only make Serbia’s international position more difficult. It would only “send a wrong message that Serbs in northern Kosovo can’t come to an agreement even with their own state”, meaning Serbia, Stefanovic said.

“The way I see it, it was a vote for the government of the Republic of Serbia, or against it,” Oliver Ivanovic, deputy minister for Kosovo in Belgrade government, told media.

“The progress in European integrations means betterment in political and economic

sense for the Republic of Serbia and without that Serbs in Kosovo can expect nothing good,” Ivanovic concluded

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