Serbia annuls Kosovo independence declaration

BELGRADE -- PM Vojislav Koštunica addressed the nation today as ethnic Albanians unilaterally declared Kosovo's independence.

It a televised address from the seat of the Serbian government in Belgrade, Koštunica rejected this act as illegal, and declared it null and void.

"Kosovo's unilateral declaration of a false state is the final act of a policy that started with the NATO aggression against Serbia in 1999," the prime minister said.

"Never has the truth about why Serbia was savagely destroyed by NATO bombs been more clear," he continued, and added that "NATO's military interests lie behind the proclamation of this false state."

The prime minister severely criticized the United States, saying that this country preferred force to the UN Charter and accused it of shamelessly breaching the international order.

"The United States have also humiliated the European Union, and forced it to trample on the principles it is built upon," Koštunica added, and warned that Europe, "which has lowered its head", will be responsible "for all the serious consequences that Kosovo's independence carries with it."

Koštunica repeated that the government will annul all documents that relate to the creation of a false state on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Serbia.

Meanwhile, President Boris Tadić issued a statement to the media, where he says Serbia will do "everything to annul the self-styled and illegal declaration of Kosovo's independence."

"Serbia will never recognize Kosovo and Metohija's independence," the statement said, but added that the state "must not now undertake hasty moves".

He also appealed "on all citizens and our compatriots in Kosovo and Metohija" to be "guided by reason" in the coming days.

"Serbia has reacted and will react with all peaceful, diplomatic and legal means to annul this act of Kosovo's temporary institutions. Serbia is asking international institutions in Kosovo to immediately declare this act null and void, as it stands in contravention of the basic principles of international law," the president said.

Tadić called for "restraint and peace" from citizens, parties and the media several times in his statement, stressing that the lives and property of people are of utmost importance at this moment, and urged KFOR and UNMIK in the province to protect the Serbs there from possible outbreaks of violence by the ethnic Albanian majority there.