Global Policy Forum

UN Security Council Agrees to Hear Kosovo Albanians

December 14, 2007

World powers reached a compromise on Friday to allow representatives of Kosovo to speak at a U.N. Security Council meeting next week on the future of the breakaway Serbian province. Kosovo Albanians have said they plan to declare independence in the coming months despite fierce opposition from Serbia, backed by its historic ally Russia, which has blocked Security Council action on Kosovo in the past.

European Union leaders said after a one-day summit that negotiations on Kosovo's future were exhausted, the status quo was untenable and there was a need to move toward a Kosovo settlement. They stopped short of endorsing independence. The Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss this month's report by a "troika" of mediators -- the EU, Russia and the United States -- which said four months of talks had failed to reach a deal with no compromise on either side.

Serbia has asked the council to ensure Kosovo Albanians will not be allowed to speak at Wednesday's meeting because they do not represent a state. Security Council diplomats have been wrangling over the issue for days with Western countries trying to avoid pushing it to a vote that would have been potentially divisive. "Knowing that they would lose a vote, Russia took the initiative," one EU diplomat said after the council held informal consultations.

Different Rules

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin proposed inviting Fatmir Sejdiu, president of the semi-autonomous province, to speak under a rule allowing non-state individuals to be invited to participate in Security Council debates. Diplomats said he asked council members to be consistent when they deal with such issues, in particular the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, which has forged close ties to Russia since a 1992-93 war. "I am pleased that the Council has accepted the Russian proposal for the format of that meeting," Churkin told reporters.

He said Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Sejdiu would be invited under two different rules. "It will be clear that the political standing of the two parties participating in the discussion is completely different." Russia and Serbia say it would be against international law for Kosovo to declare independence, and for countries to recognize it, without a Security Council resolution. Russia also says it would set a dangerous precedent.

Most EU states, however, are prepared to bypass the Security Council because no agreement is possible there. Wednesday's meeting is not expected to produce any concrete outcome such as a resolution or even a statement. "What we can expect from that meeting is it will make it clear we can't decide at the Security Council," the EU diplomat said. "The Security Council is divided. It's not able to decide, so the underlying message, I think, would be now action moves to Brussels and to the EU."

More Information on the UN Security Council
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