Russia's Principled Stand on Kosovo

Published on November 25, 2006, Washington Post

Category: Growing International Opposition to Imposed Solution

Right now the United States and Russia need to deepen their cooperation on such top-tier issues as North Korea, Iran and the Middle East. In this context, The Post's suggested "in your face" approach to Russia's role in finding an equitable and stable solution to the festering problem of Kosovo is both surprising and troubling ["Here Comes Kosovo," editorial, Nov. 10]. It is ironic that The Post accuses the Putin administration of a policy based on threats and violence, when it is in fact precisely threats and violence that underlie the demand for Kosovo independence. (Or as it is euphemistically phrased in the editorial, "Putting off Kosovo's independence would only enrage the province's 2 million Albanians and trigger the Balkan meltdown that the West hopes to avoid.") It is just that kind of violent rage that has driven from Kosovo two-thirds of the province's pre-war Serbian population (and many people in other ethnic groups) and destroyed some 150 Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries. Rewarding such behavior with an imposed solution would only encourage more of the same and lead to a meltdown all parties hope to avoid. The Russian government properly insists that the future of Kosovo can only be decided through negotiation and adopted in a manner consistent with the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. This is not a cynical ploy, as The Post supposes, but the principled position of a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. American voters sent their government a strong message regarding the consequences of actions undertaken in violation of norms of international behavior. I trust that message was not limited to Iraq. SERGEI N. SHISHKAREV Deputy Chairman Committee on Energy, Transportation and Communications Russian State Duma Moscow

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