Serbians prepare plan for Kosovo

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Serbia yesterday adopted an "action plan" to be implemented if Kosovo declares independence. The plan is believed to include the downgrading of diplomatic ties with Western states and the economic blockade of the breakaway province.

The government said the measures — to be implemented when Kosovo Albanians proclaim independence from Serbia, possibly next month — were adopted at an urgent Cabinet meeting.

The "action plan" was adopted to "protect Serbia's sovereignty, territorial integrity and the constitutional order in case of the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence," a government statement said.

The minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said the plan was "top secret" and that no officials could provide any details.

Serbia's Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said the military had no special "action plan" for Kosovo but is ready to prevent any violence in the province.

Government officials have said previously that the retaliatory measures include the halting integration into the European Union and downgrading, or even cutting off, diplomatic ties with the United States and several EU countries that plan to recognize Kosovo's independence.

They also include the imposing of an economic and travel blockade for Kosovo Albanians — a proposal that has stoked concerns of renewed ethnic unrest in the province, the officials said.

Western nations have said they would recognize Kosovo's independence because it has not been under Serbia's control since 1999, when NATO intervened to stop former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's military crackdown against the separatists.

Serbia, backed by Russia, insists Kosovo — considered the cradle of Serbia's medieval state and religion — should remain part of its territory, and has urged more negotiations with Kosovo Albanians.