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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

    Why Crimea is Not Kosovo: Lavrov to Serbian Press

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    On a visit to Belgrade, Russia's foreign minister expressed his country's gratitude to Serbia for its participation in the May 9 Victory Day celebrations, and eagerness to strengthen bilateral relations, including support for Serbia's position on the question of Kosovan independence.

    Russia' position regarding the Kosovo question is clear and consistent, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview on Thursday with the Serbian newspaper Politika, and reiterated that Russia will continue to offer Serbia the necessary support on the subject of Kosovan independence.

    "Russia's stance towards Kosovo is clear and consistent: the regulation of this problem is possible exclusively on the basis of international law and in the framework determined by UN Security Council Resolution 1244," said Lavrov.

    "As concerns Serbia's efforts in this area, of course, those decisions which are acceptable for Serbia are also acceptable for us. From our position, we are ready to further offer the necessary support to our Serbian partners."

    When asked by Politika about the potential for drawing a comparison between Crimea and Kosovo, and in such a way giving an indirect acknowledge to the Kosovan right to independence, Lavrov made plain Russia's opposition to the Kosovan declaration, and the difference between the two cases:

    "We warned [regarding Kosovo] that the introduction into international practice of the model of a declaration of independence of a particular territory creates a precedent."

    "Many times we drew attention to the fact that in recent times the western alliance with the US at the head uses double standards, breaks the fundamental standards of international law, and directly and shamelessly interferes in the internal affairs of sovereign states."

    "The consequences of such an approach have been fully felt by the people of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and today Ukraine. Because of the coup supported by Washington and Brussels, in Kiev in February of last year power was seized by ultranationalists, who with their actions took the country to the brink of collapse and began a bloody civil war."

    "In comparison with that, the residents of the Crimea, in full accordance with international law – in accordance with one of the fundamental principles of the equality and self-determination of peoples, which is stated in Chapter One of the UN Charter … and many other well-known international documents – voted in a referendum to declare independence from Ukraine and for unification with Russia." 

    "The attempts by those who directed the separation of Kosovo from Serbia – and furthermore with no kind of referendum – to raise doubts over the free expression of the will of Crimean residents are obviously absurd," said Lavrov.

    "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia won't change its position towards Kosovo, regardless of the Crimea." 

    The Russian Foreign Minister is currently in Belgrade on an official visit, less than a week after Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic visited Moscow to mark Victory Day, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the victory over the Axis powers. 

    "First of all, I'd once more like to thank all those who managed to come to Moscow to take part in the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War, to those who spent those days of remembrance with us and paid tribute to the veterans who saved Europe from fascist madness."

    "We very highly value the decision by our Serbian partners and the Serbian president to take part in the celebrations," said Lavrov, whose first call on his itinerary after arriving on Thursday was a visit to lay a wreath at the Liberators of Belgrade memorial, where soldiers of the Yugoslav Liberation Army and Soviet Army are buried.

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    independence referendum, United Nations, Crimea, Russia, Serbia, Kosovo
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