Serbia -- scheduled to challenge Kosovo's independence at the United Nations today (September 9, 2010) -- bowed to intense European and U.S. pressure at the last minute, and dropped its UN resolution, thus clearing the way for settlement talks between Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanian leadership, according to the Guardian website.
President Boris Tadic of Serbia announced the reversal last night, just hours before the UN General Assembly had been due to debate a demand from Belgrade seeking to invalidate Kosovo's independence. Tadic emphasized that the shift in policy did not mean Serbian recognition of Kosovan statehood.
The reversal in Serbian policy marked a success for Catherine Ashton, the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief, who had spent the past two days pressing Tadic to agree on a "last-chance" formula acceptable to the rest of Europe. She told Tadic that a refusal would leave Serbia to a head-on dispute with the EU, which Serbia wants to join.
Kosovo seceded from Serbia in February 2008, and the International Court of Justice -- in a decision that has been criticized by scores of international law experts -- ruled in July 2010 that Kosovo's secession did not violate international law. Serbia is primarily comprised of Orthodox Christians, while the primary religion in Kosovo is Islam.