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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
UN vetoes Kosovo border resolution
The Kosovo's assembly during an inaugural session
Ethnic Albanian MPs want Kosovo's full independence
The United Nations mission in Kosovo has taken the unprecendented step of invalidating a resolution taken by the province's local assembly, which was seeking to challenge a territorial settlement.

The UN administration chief in Kosovo, Michael Steiner
Steiner struck the motion down within minutes of its adoption
The UN administrator in Kosovo, Michael Steiner, within minutes declared "null and void" the resolution adopted by the ethnic Albanian-dominated assembly which rejected a border agreement between Yugoslavia and Macedonia.

Kosovo, which borders Macedonia, legally remains part of Yugoslavia. The unanimously passed resolution is being viewed as an attempt by the province to act as an independent state.

The incident is also seen as the most serious rift in relations between the province's ethnic Albanian leadership and the UN since the world body took charge of the province in June 1999.

The vote is also likely to earn strong criticism from Belgrade - and has already prompted a walkout from the assembly by the Serb deputies.

Warnings

Ethnic Albanian MPs - who press for Kosovo's outright independence - have been unhappy with the border agreement between Yugoslavia and Macedonia since it was signed last year.

Assembly powers
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They say that over 4,000 hectares of land were removed from Kosovo without any consultation with the local population.

The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Pristina says that while some UN officials have sympathised with the MP's grievances, the UN Security Council and the European Union, have warned that the assembly has no rights to discuss issues affecting the region's borders or internal security.

Letters from the Security Council and the EU not to go ahead with the vote were presented to the assembly before the session.

They warned that Kosovo's reputation would be damaged if the motion was adopted.

Walkout

Nevertheless, the assembly went ahead with the resolution.

The President of Kosovo's assembly, Abraham Rug ova
Rugova leads the independence-seeking assembly

This in turn prompted the Serbian deputies to leave the parliament, saying they would no longer take part in the assembly or the province's government unless the motion was rejected.

The 120-strong Kosovo's first multi-ethnic assembly opened its inaugural session in December 2001, following elections the month before.

But the UN retained the final say on the most contentious policy issues, banning the assembly to vote for the province's independence.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Wood in Pristina
"The UN says the parliament has gone beyond its remit"
News and analysis from Kosovo following November's election


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29 Nov 01 | Europe
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