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Troika unlikely to reach compromise on Kosovo

The diplomatic Troika, comprising the United States, the European Union and Russia, does not rule out Kosovo’s division, if Serbs and Albanians agree on it. The statement came as the first round of talks on the future of the province ended in Pristina.

The future status of Kosovo remains an unresolved issue. The breakaway province says it expects independence from Serbia by the end of the year.

A troika made up of Russia, the U.S. and the EU is conducting fresh talks that aim to mediate a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina by December. They've already met the heads of the Serbian government in Belgrade and this weekend they are negotiating with Kosovan leaders.

I hope we will effectively work together in the coming months. You see how Troika serious is about proceeding for a compromise.

                    Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko,
                                           Russian diplomat

“We are here as a troika to build bridges, to try to find ways of achieving a consensus in the region in the interests of peace. We will agree to whatever the parties agree to,” U.S. diplomat Frank Wisner proclaimed.

Although all sides say they want to work together, so far, more than a year of negotiations has been fruitless. The ethnic Albanian majority in the province say they'll accept nothing less than independence.

“We have presented our own position. We will co-operate with the delegation. We told them that Ahtisaari’s plan is our basis and we will not compromise in independence, and we will defend Kosovo’s territorial integrity,” Fatmir Sejdiu, Kosovo President, stated.

Oliver Ivanovich, Serbian leader
Oliver Ivanovich, Serbian leader

And the Serbian leader Oliver Ivanovic, who has also attended the meetings in Pristina, says he is still uncertain if the talks will help resolve anything. 

“It's a very balanced approach of the troika group and there is a small and, let’s say, limited hope that we’ll have some sort of solution in the next 120 days. Suddenly, both sides are sticking to their regional position – it’s very difficult to imagine how  it will  look like. But anyhow, this attempt is something what we have. Finally, after 120 days will have again this issue for discussion of the council, that’s a guarantee for the Serbs and Serbia that the international law will be respected,” Mr Ivanovic stated. 

And the EU's Kosovo envoy, Wolfgang Ishinger, threatens isolation for Serbia and Kosovo if they fail to reach an agreement.

“We are not going, as a troika, to make any proposals neither partition nor anything else. But we have clearly said to both sides, we have said it publicly and I am happy to repeat it here, that it is the principal of the troika to be prepared to endorse any agreement which both parties managed to achieve. In the absence of such agreement the European door will not be as opened as, I am sure that every one here – in this region, would hope it would be,” Mr Ishinger stated. 

Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999. But Serbia refuses to let go of the province which it sees as its ancestral homeland.

Russia says if the West tries to push through the UN Marti Ahtisaari plan for independence it'll use its power of veto at the Security Council. But it’s working as part of the troika to find a solution.

After so much suffering on both sides, behind the scenes politicians and diplomats say they are sceptical as to whether a compromise can ever be found. One thing all parties agree on is that they have a tough mission ahead of them.