Kosovo seeks independence talks as UN deadline passes

Kosovo Albanian leaders say they will immediately start talks with their western backers on steps leading to a declaration of independence from Serbia and subsequent international recognition.

Negotiations on Kosovo's future have been going on for four months. It was assumed they would be completed by December 10. But Monday night may prove to be an anti-climax.

Russia warns that recognising a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo could set off a ‘chain reaction’ of problems within and outside the Balkans.

Three days earlier the troika of Russia, the United States and the European Union submitted to the UN Security Council a report saying that the parties failed to reach an agreement.

“I think it is clear to everyone that despite the really outstanding efforts by the troika despite the  gulf between the sides has not been bridged and now the European Union has to fulfill its responsibilities,” Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, commented.

The UN will now debate the issue on December 19.

Pristina insists on full independence, while Belgrade is only willing to offer the province wide autonomy.

“Now it is not inevitable, because we must speak about the final status of Kosovo. He, who is not ready to speak, he is ready for violence,” Slobodan Samardzic, Serbia's Minister for Kosovo, said.

Kosovo officials say they are preparing to declare independence ‘much earlier than May’.

Russia’s position

Russia says it believes further negotiations on the future status of Kosovo are necessary.

“There are no ”magic“ solutions that can make everybody happy. Russia strongly maintains that the talks should continue. They should build on the foundation laid by the troika and the direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina brokered by the troika,” Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, commented.