No negotiated solution on Kosovo: EU and U.S.
The UN Security Council has ended debates on Kosovo’s future status after receiving a report by the Troika of mediators, consisting of Russia, the U.S. and the EU.
“It is clear in our view that more negotiations in this or any other format will not make a difference. We therefore endorse the view of the European Union and the U.S. negotiators in the Troika that the potential for a negotiated solution is now exhausted,” Johan C. Verbeke, Belgian Ambassador to the UN said.
The Security Council remained split. Russia and Serbia are pushing to continue the negotiations, while the U.S. and representatives of the Kosovar Albanians call for independence.
The European Union has said it will now decide on Kosovo's status, while Russia's Envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin says a decision would be illegitimate without the Security Council's approval.
“There is nothing in our position which would be disrespectful to the interests of Kosovo’s Albanians. We simply believe that a way of action which would be outside of international law would be detrimental not only to Belgrade but also to Pristina, to Albanians and Serbs living there, and to the region,” Churkin said.
Russia's Foreign Ministry hopes the UN Security Council will not let the negotiating process over Kosovo between Belgrade and Pristina fail.
The negotiators have continually failed to find a solution for the UN-administered province.
Serbian and ethnic Albanian negotiators appealed to the UN earlier on Wednesday to come round to their differing views on the future of Kosovo, with their pleas based on history, emotion and ideological conflict.
Ahead of the meeting thousands of Serbs opposed to Kosovo's independence rallied in the ethnically split town of Mitrovica.
From the Albanian perspective there is now a sense of inevitability. “We deserve our freedom,” said Hashim Thaci, Kosovan Democratic Party leader.
It's widely expected Kosovo will declare independence in the first few months of 2008. Not surprisingly, such predictions have already caused a surge in hardline rhetoric and a resurgence of nationalism.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and many European countries have indicated they would recognise a unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence – a prerequisite for such a declaration to happen, according to Artyom Ulunyan from the Institute of World History.
Russia backs Serbia on the issue and has threatened to veto any Security Council resolution on independence for Kosovo, as countering resolution 1244, that essentially states UN's control over the final status of Kosovo.
“We believe that there is room for agreement in the Kosovo negotiations,” stated Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is in the vanguard of the battle for Kosovo. Relying on Russia to block U.N. recognition, he has heavily stressed the ideological symbolism of any move towards independence.
“It is not only something that has to do with Serbia. It is, I would say, of global importance because at the moment we are testing the whole system of rules – whether the UN Security Council resolutions are still valid,” Kostunica said.
Elena Guskova, Head of the Balkans Crisis Study Centre at the Russian Academy of Sciences, says Moscow is not deliberately trying to be difficult:
“Russia does not just say ‘no’, something for which we have long been criticised. This time we have put forward a concrete suggestion of a road map to continue the negotiation process”.
Guskova notes that the U.S. thinks the talks have been exhausted and the question of Kosovo’s independence absolutely has to be resolved now. Russia, on the other hand, believes positive components can be taken out of these talks as the basis for the next round of negotiations.
“Russia’s position contains a whole set of serious arguments. Unfortunately, we have concluded that the West does not want to hear these arguments,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, activists from the youth movements Young Russia and New People have held a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow protesting against what they say is a destructive policy towards Serbia.
The dispute surrounding the status of Kosovo is being followed closely in Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both regions have been striving for independence since the early 1990s after conflicts with Georgia.
The president of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity told RT that Kosovo’s independence would mean West’s double standards of resolving territorial disputes.
“In comparison with other precedents – if we are talking about political and legal grounds – in this matter South Ossetia has much more of a legal basis for recognition. Because we are a small and separated nation and this is more of a humanitarian than political matter,” Kokoity said.