PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, Nov 15 (AFP) -
International peace brokers Tuesday warned Kosovo deputies against a brazen declaration of independence following media reports that the parliament will debate a motion on breaking away from Serbia.
The four main parties representing Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority had agreed to vote in favour of a measure spelling out their intention to declare the territory independent, local media said.
The resolution was put together before long-awaited talks on the future status of Kosovo, whose ethnic Albanians, comprising almost 90 percent of the province's two million population, are demanding independence from Serbia, which Belgrade strongly opposes.
But foreign powers in the United Nations-administered province said they were pressuring the party leaders to drop the motion.
"The Contact Group will not support any unilateral decision ahead of the talks," Philip Goldberg, the head of the United States mission in Kosovo, told reporters after meeting parliamentary speaker Nexhat Daci.
The so-called Contact Group of foreign powers has overseen peace efforts in the former Yugoslavia since the communist federation collapsed in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
"I have been telling them clearly... that if they adopt a text as a guidance to the negotiating team, that's fine," said Soren Jessen-Petersen, the chief of the UN mission in Kosovo.
"If they adopt a text which is not in the form of a guidance, calling for let's say independence, that is a unilateral declaration that goes against the Security Council resolution 1244, and also goes against the principles adopted by the Contact Group," he told AFP.
Resolution 1244 refers to the Security Council decision defining Kosovo as a UN protectorate after a NATO bombing campaign ended a crackdown by Serbian forces against Albanian separatists in June 1999.
The parliamentary resolution was "not valid because the Security Council resolution is the one that right now provides the mandate here," Jessen-Petersen added.
But Daci told journalists the province's parliament was "obliged to respect the will of the Kosovo people."
The resolution was initiated by Kosovo's leading opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and was backed by the Democratic League of Kosovo, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and the Ora Party.
"The PDK insists that Kosovo's assembly institutionalises the will of Kosovo citizens for an independent and sovereign state as soon as possible," said PDK spokeswoman Vlora Citaku.
"For the PDK, the approval of this resolution is very important because it serves as a guidance to the Kosovo negotiating team in the status talks," she said.