Russian Deputy PM reiterates support for Serbia over Kosovo, Feb. 25, 2008

BELGRADE, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Monday reiterated his country's support for Serbia over the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.

"Our stance is that Serbia is an indivisible state whose jurisdiction extends to the whole of its territory and we will stick to this principled stance," Medvedev said at a joint news conference with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica after their meeting.

Medvedev's short visit to Serbia, just a week after its Southern province declared independence, was aimed, among other things, to show support for Serbia at a time when Belgrade was outraged at the U.S. and some western countries over their recognition of Kosovo's independence.

"Moscow thinks the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo violates Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it is not in accordance with principles of international law, Resolution1244, the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki Final Act," Medvedev said, warning that Kosovo's independence has complicated the situation there and may have negative consequences on other regions in Europe and worldwide.

Kostunica told reporters that Serbia is grateful to Russia and President Vladimir Putin for their support for Serbia on defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Kostunica said Serbia will continue to work with Russia to have Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence annulled at the U.N. Security Council.

There will be "no normalization of relations with those countries that have recognized Kosovo, until they annul their decisions," he said.

During his talks with Serbian President Boris Tadic, Medvedev was told that Belgrade would never recognize the independence of Kosovo and would continue to fight for its legitimate interests by peaceful, diplomatic and legal means.

The two agreed that the economic cooperation of the two countries was progressing and that bilateral relations were developed in the interests of both Russia and Serbia.

Medvedev, who is also the Russian gas giant Gazprom's chairman of the board of directors, attended Monday a signing ceremony, in which Gazprom and Serbia's state-owned gas company signed an agreement to create a joint company that will build the Serbian stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline.

The 10-billion-euro (14.65-billion-U.S. dollar) South Stream project by Gazprom and Italy's ENI is designed to bring Siberian gas to Western Europe.

Editor: Yan Liang

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