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> recognizes Montenegro, offers friendship

Published date: 15.06.2006 20:00 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Serbia finally recognized Montenegro's independence on Thursday almost a month after its old partner voted in a referendum to dissolve their joint state.

Despite the delay, Belgrade indicated the separation would be friendly, in line with Western hopes.

Serbia's recognition is only a formality. But its amicable tone is certain to be welcomed by the West, which was alarmed by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's initial grudging acceptance and comment that there would be no "velvet divorce."

"Conditions have been met for the Serbian recognize the Republic of Montenegro and to establish diplomatic ties, which contributes to development of friendly and good neighborly relations," the statement said.

It said Montenegrins who live in Serbia could get Serbian citizenship and Montenegrin students would have the same rights as those from Serbia, dispelling fears they would have to pay higher fees as foreigners.

Serbia's recognition comes after that of the European Union, Russia, China, the United States and most Balkan neighbors.

Montenegro voted in a May 21 referendum to end an 88-year partnership with Serbia, completing the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.