KOSOVO: INDEPENDENCE PLAN COULD FACE ROUGH RIDE IN SECURITY COUNCIL

Published on April 3, 2007, adnkronos international

Category: Growing International Opposition to Imposed Solution

Belgrade, 29 March (AKI) - Top United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari's blueprint for Kosovo, granting supervised independence for majority ethnic Albanians, has run into a trouble ahead of a UN Security Council debate of the plan next week, diplomats said on Thursday. The divisions surfaced at a meeting of the six-nation Contact Group for Kosovo in London on Wednesday when Russia, a veto-wielding permanent Security Council member, signalled its opposition to independence for Kosovo without Belgrade's consent.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Vladimir Titov said his country wants the UN-brokered talks on Kosovo to continue until a negotiated settlement is reached, saying that Ahtisaari’s plan was one-sided and in breach of international law which provides for inviolability of the existing state borders.

"In a situation when there is no agreement, one can not force the process and try to impose a one-sided solution,” he said.

Vladeta Jankovic, a political adviser to Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, told Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti on Thursday that several members of the Security Council were worried that Kosovo's independence would give a boost to separatist movements throughout the world. Apart from Russia and China, South Africa, Ghana, Congo, Slovakia and Indonesia had deep reservations about Kosovo's independence, fearing domino reactions elsewhere, he said.

Russia has repeatedly warned it would oppose any solution for Kosovo which is not acceptable to both sides. Serbia favours a form of broad autonomy for Kosovo that stops short of independence, but western powers have been pushing for independence even if it has to be imposed by the UN Security Council against Serbia’s will.

US assistant secretary of state, Rosemary Di Carlo, who attended the London meeting, acknowledged that Ahtisaari’s plan has run into trouble because of Russian opposition, but she said Washington would work in the coming weeks to overcome the problem.

"We intend to conduct intensive talks in the next few weeks not only with Russia, but also with other members of the Security Council as well as with Serbia and Kosovo," Di Carlo said. “But we do want to solve this problem by June,” she added.

"The Contact group remains united in a common feeling of responsibility to promote peace in Kosovo and in the region, despite differences in approach,” the group said in a brief statement after the London meeting.

The Contact group - United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Russia - has set guidelines for Ahtisaari’s plan before it goes for a final approval by the UN Security Council.

Russia has repeatedly warned it would oppose any solution for Kosovo which was not acceptable to both sides, which is the case with Ahtisaari’s plan, but western powers have been pushing for independence even if this has to be imposed against Serbia’s will.

US assistant secretary of state, Rosemary Di Carlo, who attended the London meeting, acknowledged that Ahtisaari’s plan has run into trouble because of Russian opposition, but she said Washington would work in the coming weeks to overcome the problem.

"We intend to conduct intensive talks in the next few weeks not only with Russia, but also with other members of the Security Council as well as with Serbia and Kosovo," Di Carlo said. “But we do want to solve this problem by June,” she added.

Russia, on the other hand, insists on continuation of talks until a negotiated settlement was reached, which western powers oppose. The European Union chief for security and foreign policy Javier Solana has also acknowledged that Kosovo ethnic Albanians, who insist on independence, and Belgrade which opposes it, couldn’t come to an agreement and that the decision might be imposed by the Security Council.

But Solana also warned on Wednesday that Russia and China - both holding veto power in the Council - might be a problem. “Certain problems have surfaced with some members of the Security Council, concretely with Russia and perhaps China,” Solana said.

In a statement to Serbian television late on Wednesday, Kostunica scorned western powers' support for independence, saying Serbia would never accept it. “We have taken note that America, the EU and NATO support Ahtisaari’s plan to snatch away 15 percent of Serbia’s territory,’ Kostunica said.

Kostunica poured scorn on western nations' claims of amity towards Serbia, recalling NATO's 78-day bombing campaign of Serbia, that drove Serbian forces out of Kosovo in 1999. "Today, when they are trying to take away an important part of our territory, they call themselves friends of Serbia,” he said ironically.

Such behaviour only strengthened Serbia’s determination that Kosovo was “according to the international law a part of Serbia, and according to the law it will remain so,” Kostunica concluded.


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