Security Council still divided over Kosovo

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council remained divided Monday over Kosovo’s future, with veto-wielding Russia objecting to a compromise draft resolution, alleging that its hidden goal was independence for the Serbian province.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 17 Jul 2007, 10:12 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:11 AM

The 15-member council huddled behind closed doors for two hours to weigh a draft, co-sponsored by the United States, Britain and France, that calls for more talks over a 120-day period between Belgrade and Albanian separatists on Kosovo’s future status.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin welcomed the sponsors’ efforts to take into account Moscow’s objections but warned that “the chances of (the resolution being adopted as is) are zero.”

“Unfortunately they (sponsors) have been doing that with the same goal in mind: (Kosovo) independence after a short period of what may be negotiations,” he said. “Almost the entire text ... is permeated with the concept of independence of Kosovo. It’s kind of a hidden automaticity of the Ahtisaari plan”.

UN mediator for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari has proposed to grant the Albanian-majority Serbian province internationally-supervised independence but Belgrade and its ally Russia are strongly opposed.

His plan would turn over responsibility for running the province from the UN to the European Union.

The text has been amended several times as Russia threatened to veto any solution that is not acceptable to Serbia, which adamantly opposes independence for a province it views as the cradle of its culture and religion.

To mollify the Russians, the sponsors dropped an earlier reference to an automatic move to independence if the parties fail to find common ground at the end of the 120-day period.

Churkin said the sponsors said there ought to be “some grey areas and some uncertainty.”

“We believe that this is a wrong track ... The Security Council must encourage the parties to continue negotiations and the council must continue to exercise its responsibility after the end of negotiations,” he added.

The Russian envoy said four months of negotiations between the parties “is too short.”

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said while “we can improve the text, we cannot change the core” of it.

“We went as far as we could,” he noted, citing the removal of any automatic path to independence at the end of the 120-day period.

De la Sabliere said the sponsors would consult overnight with their capitals over what to do next.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said that while there has been ”some improvement to the text,” more work was needed to clarify the objective of proposed talks, which should be to bring the two parties together.

Earlier Monday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the Council to vote quickly on Kosovo’s future while warning against any “premature, unilateral action.”

“Any further delay or prolongation is not desirable,” he added, expressing hope that council members will be able to address the issue on the basis of the Ahtisaari plan.

Ban also dismissed the notion that granting Kosovo independence would create a bad precedent that would encourage separatists all over the world.

“I’d like to make it clear that this issue of Kosovo is a sui generis (unique) issue” that will not create any precedent for other situations such as for Georgia’s Abkhazia republic or Azerbaijan’s disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, he said.

The draft affirms the Security Council’s “readiness to review the situation further” after the 120-day period of negotiations.

But the Serbian government remained firm in its opposition to the Western-backed solution for Kosovo, insisting that fresh negotiations should be launched between Belgrade and Pristina, without a timeframe, that would lead to a “compromise solution” for Kosovo.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a new envoy should be found to replace Ahtisaari.

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