Serbia to protest Ottawa's recognition of Kosovo
Published Tuesday, March 18, 2008 11:20PM EDT
Serbia's ambassador to Canada says his country will send a formal protest to Ottawa on Wednesday, denouncing its decision to recognize Kosovo's independence.
Dusan Batakovic told CTV Newsnet's Mike Duffy Live that he is also temporarily being recalled to Belgrade for consultation, a move seen as showing Serbia's displeasure with Ottawa.
On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said in a press release that Canada would follow the lead of its allies and recognize Kosovo's declaration of independence, which it issued last month.
Many western countries -- including the U.S. and Britain -- have said that Kosovo presented a unique case for independence because of a program of ethnic cleansing that Serbs orchestrated against ethnic Kosovars in the 1990s.
NATO forces ultimately used force to stop the crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic -- who had stripped Kosovo of its autonomy in 1989 -- was tried for war crimes at The Hague, but died in custody.
The Serbian ambassador said Canada and its allies have made a mistake in accepting Kosovo's case for independence.
"I think it's a very wrong and regrettable decision," Batakovic said. "I suspect there will be a lot of Canadian Serbs protesting in the streets."
Earlier he told reporters Canada's decision could fuel Quebec separatism.
"What we have seen is that certain separatist political parties have said clearly -- Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois -- that they support the independence of Kosovo, not because Kosovo deserves it, but because it will be a very useful precedent for themselves in the near future," Batakovic said.
Many international leaders and Canada's foreign affairs minister deny that Kosovo sets a precedent.
"Kosovo is a unique case, as illustrated by its recent history characterized by war and ethnic cleansing," Bernier said.
"The unique circumstances which have led to Kosovo's independence mean it does not constitute any kind of precedent. Statements made by other countries recognizing Kosovo's independence have echoed this point."
Canada issued a travel advisory to the region last month after violence erupted following Kosovo's declaration of independence. Angry Serb rioters attacked and burned foreign buildings, including the U.S. embassy in Belgrade.
On Tuesday, the UN accused Serb officials of complicity in recent violence that has killed a UN peacekeeper and injured dozens of people in Kosovo.