Mediators stumble over Kosovo
Following mediated talks between Serbian and Albanian delegations from Kosovo, their positions on the future status of the breakaway region remain worlds apart.
“Our vision and our stance are very clear. It's the independence of Kosovo and its recognition, and we will achieve this in co-operation with all the countries that have helped and are still helping Kosovo. There are absolutely no other alternatives,” said Fatmir Sejdiu, President of Kosovo.
The Serbian representatives have put forward new suggestions on autonomy – but not independence – for the breakaway province. They urged the Albanian side to force the issue.
“We have to remove the imminent threat of a unilateral course of action that the Albanian side has so far been threatening . This is really burdening the talks almost to breaking point. I very much hope that there'll be a toning down of the rhetoric. This might help lead us to a successful outcome of this process and the arrival at a compromise solution on the future status of Kosovo,” said Serbian Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic.
The UN Troika of Russia, the U.S. and the EU has also warned Kosovo against proclaiming independence, calling on Pristina and Belgrade to come to an agreement.
The mediators themselves, though, can't agree.
On 10 December, the Troika is expected to present its recommendations for Kosovo to the UN Security Council.
While the US firmly backs Kosovo's bid for independence, Russia is opposed. The EU, for its part, can't reach a consensus.
In another twist, Russia's Foreign Ministry has cast doubt over last weekend's parliamentary elections. It says the boycott by ethnic Serbs puts the results in doubt.
In those elections, Kosovo Albanians chose as their new prime minister the former guerilla leader Hashim Thaci.
The newly elected leadership of Kosovo says the region is ready to push for independence, but will wait for international approval.
With mixed signals from Pristina on whether it might declare independence unilaterally – perhaps immediately after 10 December – the region's future remains uncertain.