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Troika talks on Kosovo status to continue

Envoys from the European Union, the U.S. and Russia are to meet with ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo in a renewed effort to find a solution to its political status. It follows Friday's meeting with Serbian leaders in Belgrade.

The EU and the U.S. support Kosovo's bid for independence but Moscow shares Belgrade's concerns about the future of ethnic Serbs in the breakaway province.

The mediators said that their business meeting in Belgrade on Friday has gone very well. They promised to leave no stone unturned in the search for solution – for compromise over the future status of Kosovo. Their main goal, they said, is to find a way to ensure peace both in Kosovo and Serbia. But nothing exact has been told about what sort of compromise could be reached.

“I am glad to co-operate with the EU and U.S. representatives in order to help to reach a compromise-based solution which would be endorsed by the Security Council,” Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, Russian Envoy, said.

The troika of mediators are going to continue the talks during the weekend in Pristina. And they hope that by December 2007 they are going to reach some sort of solution.  

Russia has warned that any decision on Kosovo's future must be approved by both Kosovo's Albanian and Serb population. For its part, the EU says no new proposals will be made and a United Nation's plan is still up for discussion. 

After several rounds of talks and long-running diplomatic efforts, the future of Serbia's breakaway province is still uncertain. While ethnic Albanians want Kosovo to become independent, Serbs demand it remain part of Serbia.

Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999 following a two-year war between the two sides.

After 13 months of talks still no solution has been found. The UN's plan offered the 90% Albanian majority independence under EU supervision. Russia, a close ally of Serbia, blocked it – and says that deal is now dead. Not so says the EU – it insists the plan is still on the table.

But Russia believes independence for Kosovo threatens European peace.

“Today the people of Serbia are defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country. Our position here is well known, peace in Europe cannot be built without taking into account the fundamental principles of international law, including the principles of the final Helsinki Act,” says Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kosovan Prime Minister Agim Ceku
Kosovan Prime Minister Agim Ceku

Serbia and Russia both want further negotiations and they insist there should be no time limit on the issue.

Kosovo Albanian leaders, however, want a solution fast, as they say instability over the issue is leading to violence.

Kosovo's Prime Minister threatened on Wednesday to walk out of the talks if independence is put in doubt or if ethnic partition is put forward.

“Any proposal other than Kosovo's independence is unacceptable. We will ask from the 'Troika' [envoys from the United States, European Union and Russia] not to make new proposals, but to help achieve progress on those issues that we both can agree. We should not waste time on discussing independence, or the elements from Ahtisaari's package,” stated Agim Ceku, Kosovan Prime Minister.

With the tension running high between the two sides, these talks in Belgrade and Pristina could be the last opportunity to find an agreement.