Bulgaria: Kosovo must not make unilateral declaration of independence

Unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo could lead to the destabilization of the Balkans, a senior Bulgarian government official said Thursday.

Speaking at a conference on the new challenges for international security, Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Kyuchukov said such a move would "leave with a grave political choice not only Bulgaria and the countries in the region, but also the EU and the international community as a whole."

"Such a scenario would have a serious destabilizing effect not only on northern Kosovo, but also in southern Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and all of southeastern Europe," Kyuchukov said.

Bulgaria has repeatedly urged neighboring Serbia and Kosovo's Albanian community to reach a deal on the future status of the independence-seeking province, saying it was crucial for stability in the Balkans. Kyuchukov said a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo would be "the most unfavorable scenario possible."

"Bulgaria expects a timely, internationally legitimate decision through a resolution of the U.N. Security Council based on the Ahtisaari plan," Kyuchukov noted, referring to U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan that foresees eventual independence for Kosovo.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO air war halted a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. The ethnic Albanian majority now wants independence, while the Serbs living in Kosovo want it to remain part of Serbia.