Russia concerned at Kosovo ‘Syrian militant training’ reports

Free Syrian Army fighters patrol a street in Qusair town near Homs city, northern Syria May 5, 2012 (Reuters/Stringer)
Media reports suggesting that Kosovo officials have established contact with the Syrian opposition to train Syrian militants in the secessionist province are causing alarm, the Russian Ambassador to the UN said Monday.

­"The training of militants would run counter to the efforts of the UN and Arab League special envoy, which are supported by the entire international community," said Vitaly Churkin, speaking at a session of the Security Council devoted to the situation in Kosovo.

The UN Ambassador went on to warn of the possible global implications of such paramilitary exercises.

"Apart from this, turning Kosovo into an international drilling ground where the militants of paramilitary formations would get training might become a serious destabilizing factor reaching out to places far beyond the boundaries of the Balkans," Churkin said.

Diplomats and media reports said that at least three exiled Syrian activists have been in Kosovo recently for talks with the former Kosovo rebels who fought a separatist war against Serbia in 1998-99, which culminated in NATO unleashing a ferocious, 78-day aerial bombardment (March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999) on Yugoslavia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed its concern over the media reports.

"Lately there have been media reports about contacts between Syrian opposition representatives and the authorities of the so-called Republic of Kosovo,” the ministry said in a statement issued on Monday. “This is not just about 'exchange of experience' in organizing separatist movements aimed at toppling existing regimes, it is also about training Syrian militants in Kosovo." 

They intend to use areas that are geographically similar to the Syrian landscape, the ministry statement continued. It is likely that training centers will be opened at the former bases of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

"Such intentions raise concerns. They run counter to the efforts of United Nations – Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan, backed by the entire international community. We are calling on international organizations present in the province to take whatever steps are necessary to foil such schemes," the Foreign Ministry concluded.

Meanwhile, Churkin also mentioned the problem of an international investigation concerning horrific reports involving Kosovo's alleged trading in human organs, which was exposed by Dick Marty, the rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Russia proposes a thorough probe of all the crimes committed in Kosovo, including the case of organ trafficking, the UN Ambassador said.

He voiced Moscow's concern over the slow pace of investigation of the established facts of organs trading and said those facts contain immediate indications that the incumbent leaders of Kosovo were involved in these crimes. The probe is steered by the EU Rule of Law Mission.

Churkin said the investigation should be free of bias and prejudices, and all the individuals involved in that criminal trading should be brought to responsibility.

“Proceeding from these considerations, we supported Serbia's proposal to hand the investigation over to the UN," he said.

Robert Bridge, RT