Interview with Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko

International mediators will meet to discuss Kosovo's future. The “Troika”, of the U.S, EU and Russia will lead negotiations. Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia’s representative of the “Troika”, said they should reach a comp

Russia Today: What is the main objective of the Troika Group on Kosovo?

Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko: At the beginning, I will remind you that “Troika” (Russia, EU and the U.S.) was established to facilitate agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, to move forward the status process in a more balanced way, one which is acceptable to both parties concerned. The main goal at this stage is to facilitate and mediate a compromise-based solution on the status of Kosovo between Belgrade and Pristina. At this stage Troika is not going to advance proposals, as the initiative has to come from the parties concerned. Of course, we invite the parties to prepare and to table fresh and creative ideas, and we expect them to make proposals which are likely to provoke a useful and constructive reply from the other side.

RT: You recently said in an interview that achieving a compromise between Albanians and Serbs will be extremely difficult. Why is that?

A.B.-K.: As you know, in August Troika made its first trip to the region.We visited Belgrade and Pristina and we conducted open sessions with the Serbian leaders and the leaders of Kosovo. Of course, the parties repeated well-known positions which are diametrically opposed to each other. So with Pristina calling for so-called “supervised independence” – as envisaged by Ahtisaari’s plan, and the only solution that Belgrade sees is the autonomy of Kosovo within Serbia. So as you see, there is a gap, and it is extremely difficult to bridge this gap. But we believe that Troika with the parties could reach a kind of a compromise.

RT: As we see, Kosovo is continuing to push for its independence, of course, looking at the support of the U.S. and of some European countries. What will be the position of Russia if Kosovo continues to do that?

A.B.-K.: At this stage, we got reassurances in Pristina that the Kosovo leaders will refrain from the unilateral steps in the course of the new stage of the negotiating process. So we do believe that there will not be unilateral steps or declaring Kosovo independent in the negotiations. Also, Kosovo leaders made a strong promise to keep the situation in Kosovo under control, to keep a close eye on outstanding and critical issues of security. So we believe that Kosovo leaders with the support of international presence in Kosovo will help to maintain favourable environment for proceeding of the negotiations.