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Tadic Pledges to Maintain Sovereignty Over Kosovo, Seek Serbia's EU Entry


Serbian President Boris Tadic has pledged to maintain Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo, while seeking to bring his country into the European Union.

The Serbian leader made his pledge in Belgrade as he took his oath of office following his re-election earlier this month. The ceremony came as leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority prepared to declare the independence of the province in coming days.

Mr. Tadic later indicated that Serbia will downgrade, but not break, relations with countries that recognize a unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence.

Meanwhile, leaders of the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo announced plans to create a separate legislature for the province, with elections to be held May 11. They also called on the area's Serbs to stage demonstrations Monday to protest Kosovo's moves toward independence.

Earlier, Russia warned that international recognition of Kosovo's independence could influence its policy towards Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But a Russian Foreign Ministry statement did not say what action Russia might take.

Thursday, Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told the United Nations Security Council his country will do everything in its power, short of violence, to prevent Kosovo from seceding.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO air strikes halted a Serbian crackdown on Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

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