[JURIST] The National Assembly of Serbia [official website] voted 219-5 on Tuesday to refer to Kosovo as an "integral and historic" part of Serbia [press release] in Serbia's forthcoming constitution, voicing its opposition to efforts by Kosovo [government website; JURIST news archive] to form a fully independent nation. UN-sponsored talks over the Kosovo issue began in February [IHT report]; in July Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica [official profile] offered the territory - still technically a Serbian province - "substantial autonomy" within Serbia, but the offer was rejected by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian President Fatmir Sejdiu [BBC profile]. Serbia insists that Kosovo is still legally part of Serbia [BBC report] under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 [text, PDF], but leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority see independence as their only legitimate option [BBC report] for their continued survival.
The United Nations has governed Kosovo since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] forces drove the Serbian military out of the province in 1999 [JURIST archive; Wikipedia backgrounder] after Serbs began a campaign that resulted in the displacement of some 300,000 ethnic Albanian residents. AP has more.