Global Policy Forum

Russia Expects Kosovo Issue to Remain on

October 22, 2007

Serbia favors "a mutually acceptable compromise" in the definition of the Kosovo and Metohija status, which would guarantee lasting peace and stability in the region, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov in Belgrade on Sunday. Titov confirmed the Russian invariable attitude to the Kosovo problem and said, "Moscow supports a solution based on fundamental principles of the international law, which will not breach the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia."

As for direct negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, which will continue in Vienna with the mediation of the Contact Group Troika, Titov told Itar-Tass, "We think that the Troika should promote negotiations aimed at a compromise rather than offer a formula, which may be thrust upon the sides. It is very good that the sides are holding direct negotiations. We think there is no deadline, although the Troika is bound to make a report to the UN Secretary General on December 10 and then give information to the UN Security Council."

A report by the UN Secretary General "will simply give an account of facts. He will not assess chances for further negotiations," Titov said. "It is necessary to discuss the issue and make a decision about further steps of the UN Security Council," the diplomat noted. "To our mind, there are certain positive and inspiring signals from the negotiating parties. We can say that the negotiating formula is very useful, and we hope to achieve certain results by December 10. These results will be developed later on. I think the understanding of the fact that the Kosovo settlement should be treated rationally and with great responsibility will strengthen."

Itar-Tass asked Titov about the Russian Foreign Ministry attitude to the idea of certain members of the international community that a world conference on Kosovo should be held. "No one has put forward this idea officially, and I have not heard about serious debates to that effect. We think that the Kosovo settlement issue will remain an item on the agenda of the UN Security Council and the existent negotiating formats, first and foremost, the Contact Group, after December 10," he said.

There should be no deadline in the Kosovo status negotiations, Russian Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said in comments on camera consultations of the UN Security Council earlier this month. He criticized those, who think that the negotiations have predestined results. "There can be no predestined solution, and this is clear from documents of the Contact Group," Churkin said. The mandate of the Contact Group Troika (Russia, the United States and the European Union) will expire on December 10, 2007, but that does not mean that the future of Kosovo must be determined by that time, Churkin said.

The Troika will submit a report to the UN Secretary General, and he will report to the UN Security Council, he said. "No one should have an impression that December 10 is a special day," he said. In his opinion, the Troika activity has had a good start. Representatives of Russia, the United States and the European Union "have proven their ability to work together and have had several good contacts with the sides," he said. The meetings showed that it is possible to make progress at the negotiations, the diplomat said.

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo did not reach a compromise concerning the Kosovo status at the October 14 negotiations in Brussels with the mediation of the UN Troika. The Troika (Russia, the United States and the European Union) said that the next round of the negotiations would take place in Vienna on October 22. The Troika also said that no one had expected the achievement of any results at the Brussels meeting.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic conveyed the proposal of a broad autonomous status of Kosovo within the state of Serbia. The Kosovo delegation spelled out its plan of friendship and cooperation between two independent states and the comprehensive provision of rights of national minorities.

The UN intermediaries pledged to continue their efforts for defining common prospects and eventually finding a solution. The NATO spokesman said earlier that the alliance, whose servicemen are ensuring security in Kosovo, rules out the possible escalation of violence in the region if the status is not defined within the next few months. EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said after his address to the negotiating parties that the Brussels round was unlikely to bring results.

This is only the second round of direct negotiations between Serbian and Albanian sides with the mediation of the Troika, he remarked. Solana expressed the EU keen interest in the success of the negotiations and voiced hope for the positive development of the negotiations. It is not a secret that the November 17 elections in Kosovo may exacerbate the situation, but these difficulties can be overcome, eh said.

Kosovo will elect the parliament and municipal authorities on November 17. The Serbian government has recommended Kosovo Serbs to boycott the elections. The EU representative in the UN Contact Group, Wolfgang Ischinger, urged Serbs and Albanians to achieve a compromise. He said the Brussels and Vienna meetings would show whether progress was possible. Ischinger did not expect any results from the Brussels round either, but said that time was a factor, as the Troika mandate would expire on December 10, and the intermediaries would present their report to the UN secretary general. The intermediary called on EU countries to reduce visa formalities for Serbia. In his opinion, that would promote the achievement of a compromise at the negotiations. The European Union will send a strong signal if it says that visa formalities for Serbia will be eventually abolished, he said.

The European Union has signed agreements on simpler visa formalities with Balkan states. These agreements make it easier for officials, students, scientists, journalists and businessmen to get an entry visa. Meanwhile, Belgrade wants the abolition of visa formalities. Italy supports this stand and says that Serbia should enjoy an official status of the EU candidate city and the abolition of visa formalities in exchange for the independence of Kosovo. Brussels is not ready to do that.

Meanwhile, Serbian President Boris Tadic said that a military interference of the Serbian army in Kosovo would cause a confrontation with the international community and the final loss of that territory. "We will not take steps, which will doom us to failure, no matter how much extremists on both sides would like that," he said in an interview with the military magazine Odbrana.

Serbia has not had a concept of co-existence with Kosovo Albanians until now, and Belgrade is trying to change the situation at direct negotiations with the Kosovo administration, Tadic said. "Our active policy aims to create conditions for a mutually acceptable solution, which would give Serbia a clear prospect of the European integration without territorial changes and a breach of sovereignty," he said. "Political forces, which insist on the isolation of Serbia, still exist. They will exist forever, but it is the most important to achieve their defeat at the negotiations and continue the integration," he said.

In the opinion of Tadic, the association with the European Union will not automatically entail NATO membership, "but the international position of Serbia differs a lot from the position of other EU member countries, which abstain from entering into the alliance." The question of Serbia's possible accession to NATO will be put on referendum at an appropriate time, Tadic said.

More Information on the UN Security Council
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