Britain rules out Kosovo’s partition; urges speedy conclusion of Kosovo-Serbia talks

By The Associated Press , Oct. 25, 2012

Britain’s foreign secretary says that Kosovo cannot be split along ethnic lines during the upcoming talks aimed at resolving the longstanding dispute over the territory.

William Hague also said Thursday the talks between the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia cannot “go on forever” and urged a speedy completion of the process.

“The map is finished in southeastern Europe,” Hague told reporters in the capital Pristina after meeting Kosovo Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci. “This is not a dialogue that is open-ended, that can go on forever.” Hague met Kosovo leaders to support the talks, and is to meet leaders in Serbia too.

Thaci met his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, in Brussels last week, the first such meeting since NATO wrestled Kosovo out of Belgrade’s control in 1999 and ended the conflict.

Dacic has in the past suggested Kosovo’s Serb-dominated north should join Serbia in exchange for Belgrade recognizing Kosovo as a state. But Kosovo leaders including Thaci have rejected the idea as a move that would trigger fresh violence in the region.

Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008 despite strong objections from Serbia and Russia. So far 91 countries have recognized it as an independent state, including the United States and most countries in the EU.

Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia and Spain reject Kosovo’s independence because they fear it would encourage secessionist movements inside their own countries.