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Serbian Lawmakers Proclaim Country's New Constitution

Serbian lawmakers have formally declared the country's new constitution to be in effect, asserting that Kosovo is an inalienable part of Serbia.

Voters last month approved the charter in a referendum. At a ceremony Wednesday, the speaker of parliament declared the constitution formally adopted.

The country's lawmakers still must approve legislation on new elections, but political parties have yet to agree on a date for the vote.

An international research group has criticized the constitution, saying it deliberately moves Serbia away from European integration. The International Crisis Group says the document will create further instability in the Balkans by setting up new barriers to Kosovo independence.

Belgrade authorities and representatives of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority have been involved in talks on the future of the province since February, but have reported little progress.

The Kosovo Albanians insist on full independence. Authorities in Belgrade want to keep at least some control over the territory.

Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since 1999 when NATO airstrikes halted Serbia's crackdown on ethnic Albanian civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.