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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 05:30 GMT 06:30 UK
Kosovo independence 'impossible'
By Nick Hawton
BBC correspondent in the Balkans

Vuk Draskovic
Mr Draskovic said he wanted greater security for Serbs in Kosovo
The new foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vuk Draskovic, has said an independent Kosovo is "impossible".

Any attempt to form such a state would go against the wishes and rights of Serbs living there and would be very dangerous, he told the BBC.

Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population want independence, but the Serbs are against it.

Last month, 19 people died when ethnic Albanians attacked Serb communities in the province's worst clash since 1999.

Sensitive issue

Kosovo's majority Albanian population are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of a long-term political solution in the UN-administered province.

If we want multicultural, multi-ethnic Kosovo, that is impossible in the case of the proclaiming of the independence of Kosovo
Vuk Draskovic
Serbian foreign minister

However, Mr Draskovic, who was a leading opponent of former President Slobodan Milosevic, said creating an independent Kosovo was not the answer.

"It would be very dangerous for both Serbs and Albanians, because generations of Serbs would dream after that day how to liberate Kosovo, and Serbs will become European Jews, dreaming about the liberation of Jerusalem," he said.

"If we want multicultural, multi-ethnic Kosovo, that is impossible in the case of the proclaiming of the independence of Kosovo," he added.

These were uncompromising words from the new foreign minister, and on one of the region's most sensitive issues.

Mr Draskovic said the priority now was for greater security to be provided for Serbs living in Kosovo and for some form of decentralisation of power to be agreed.

He said only then could talks start on the province's final status.



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