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Kosovo's independence is legal: ICJ

world Updated: Jul 22, 2010 23:44 IST

Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 was legal and did not violate any international law, the UN's International Court of Justice said on Thursday.

Rejecting Serbia's argument that Kosovo's declaration of independence from it had no legal basis, the International Court of Justice's president Hisashi Owada said the declaration did not violate any international law.

"The declaration of February 17, 2008 (by Kosovo) did not violate general international law," Owada said in The Hague.

Kosovo declared independence in February, 2008 years after the bloody 1998 99 war with Serbia and nearly a decade of international administration.

The decision is expected to spark tensions between Kosovo and Serbia as the former will renew its calls for independence.

Kosovo's independence from Serbia has already been recognised by 69 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and many countries of the European Union.

On the other hand, several countries including Russia, China and Spain oppose the secession.

Serbia maintains that the Kosovo's secession plans are illegal. Serbian president Boris Tadic had told member states in 2008 that Kosovo's move was illegal and suggested asking the ICJ to rule on the matter.

The UN had in 2008 asked the ICJ to take up the case and give its opinion.

Today's Thursday, however, does not carry legally binding weight and the General Assembly with its 192 members is not bound by it.

Welcoming the ICJ's decision, Kosovo's Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni said it was a great day for the country.

"This is a great day for Kosovo, and my message to the government of Serbia is Come and talk to us," he told