Belgrade "to do everything" to derail Pristina's UNESCO bid

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Sunday that "Serbia will do everything in its power to keep Kosovo from becoming a member of UNESCO."

Source: Beta, Tanjug, Kurir

According to Tanjug, Dacic told the Belgrade-based daily Kurir that Kosovo's bid to join UNESCO was "a distortion of the latest agreement reached by Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels."

He stressed this "did not imply opening the door for Kosovo to be given a seat in the United Nations."

Dacic said that he was warning early this year that Pristina could apply for UNESCO membership, and raised that topic on several occasions in meetings with international officials.

"We will do everything we can (to prevent Kosovo from joining UNESCO); we will ask experts to give their opinions on this matter", the Serbian foreign minister said.

He also told the tabloid that "membership in UNESCO is not the same as UN membership, since UNESCO is a somewhat more liberal organization."

Tanjug said that Kosovo applied for UNESCO membership on July 16 while Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci posted on Twitter that he "expects Kosovo to join this organization in November."

Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo unilaterally declared independence of this Serbian province in early 2008. Serbia considers the proclamation a violation of its Constitution and territorial integrity.

The Beta agency on Monday quoted Thaci's deputy Petrit Selimi as saying that UNESCO will on October 3 consider Kosovo's membership application. Reacting to Dacic's comments, Selimit told Radio Kosovo that is is "impossible for Serbia to hamper Kosovo's membership."

According to him, UNESCO members do not have veto power and the fact Kosovo is not a UN member "has no significance."

Selimit also explained that a two-third majority was not necessary for Kosovo to be admitted to this UN agency - "it is important to secure 50 percent of votes when the Executive Board meets on October 3.

He also noted that several European countries joined UNESCO in the past without previous UN membership, and said Pristina's success in this bid would represent "the greatest victory of Kosovo's diplomacy since the proclamation of Kosovo's independence - because it would open the door to membership in other agencies and institutions of the UN."

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