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    Kosovo refuses to back sovereignty for S.Ossetia, Abkhazia

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    The fact that Kosovo's independence has been acknowledged by some 50 countries does not justify Russia's decision to recognize Georgia's breakaway regions, the Kosovan president said.

    BELGRADE, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - The fact that Kosovo's independence has been acknowledged by some 50 countries does not justify Russia's decision to recognize Georgia's breakaway regions, the Kosovan president said.

    "We have always said and will continue to insist that Kosovo is a special case which cannot be treated as a precedent for other conflict zones, territories and regions," Fatmir Sejdiu said in Pristina late on Tuesday.

    Sejdiu said Kosovo was on the side of "the leading world powers" with regard to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He also said the recognition of the two separatist regions by Russia on Tuesday would not prevent more countries from backing Kosovo's sovereignty.

    Kosovo - which was a UN protectorate after the 1999 NATO bombings ended clashes between Serbs and Albanians - unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Belgrade in February, and has been recognized by the United States and most European Union countries.

    Russia's foreign minister said on Tuesday that Moscow's decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states had no parallel with Kosovo, backtracking on his earlier statements that international support for the Balkan province would trigger a chain reaction of secessionist regions declaring independence.

    "Belgrade had never tried to use military force or cast doubt on peace talks from 1999, but they were thwarted by Kosovo Albanians supported by the West. However it was Tbilisi that undermined settlement mechanisms in South Ossetia and Abkhazia," Sergei Lavrov said.

    The current crisis erupted when Georgian forces launched an assault on South Ossetia on August 8. Russia concluded its subsequent operation to "force Georgia to peace" on August 12.

    Western leaders, who criticized Russia for what they called a disproportionate military response to Georgia's attack, have also condemned Moscow's decision to recognize the breakaway regions. U.S. President George W. Bush said in a statement on Tuesday that, "Russia's action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations."

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