Oct 23, 2014 11:56 AM

Serbia protests IOC Kosovo provisional recognition

The Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Serbia lodged a formal protest Thursday against the International Olympic Committee decision to grant provisional recognition to Kosovo, calling it a "precedent of dangerous proportions."

IOC President Thomas Bach said the move was line with the Olympic Charter and dismissed concerns about any political fallout with Serbia, Russia or other opponents of Kosovo independence.

"I am not worried about this kind of ramifications," Bach said in a conference call from Switzerland. "There will be different degrees of happiness in different parts of the world this is for sure."

The decision by the IOC executive board on Wednesday clears the way for Kosovo to send an independent team to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Full recognition will be proposed at the IOC assembly in Monaco in December which should be a formality.

Kosovo unitarily declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia, which considers Kosovo the cradle of its statehood, has refused to accept the split.

"We have had broad consultations over quite some time concerning this issue," Bach said. "I think it is widely acknowledged the autonomy of the IOC in this respect, and it is also widely acknowledged that by taking this decision we have just applied the Olympic Charter."

Serbia's Olympic Committee said it "strongly condemned" the IOC decision and filed an official protest. It said further moves will depend on official Serbian policies toward Kosovo and recommendations by politicians.

Serbia, which has been under intense Western pressure to "normalize" relations with Kosovo if it wants to become an EU member, contends that Kosovo cannot be recognized by the IOC as it is not an U.N. member state.

"The acceptance of the so-called Kosovo state would create a precedent of dangerous proportions," said Serbian Sports Minister Vanja Udovicic, a former Olympic water polo player.

Udovicic appealed to the IOC assembly to reconsider the decision by the executive board so it does not "jeopardize the set sports rules on the international level."

The IOC said Wednesday that Kosovo met the definition of a "country" in the Olympic Charter as "an independent state recognized by the international community."

The IOC said Kosovo is recognized by 108 of 193 U.N. member states.


AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed to this report.


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