Moscow to uphold its stance on Kosovo independence

Russia is due to take part in the public hearings at The Hague on the issue of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence early last year, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

The hearings at the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will start on December 1.

Lavrov made the announcement after a meeting with his Serbian counterpart, Vuk Jeremic, in Moscow.

“Russia, just as many other countries, has submitted documents to the international court to be considered in the lawsuit of Serbia against Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence,” he said.

Lavrov added that at The Hague, Moscow will “uphold the necessity to respect the international law, respect the UN Security Council decisions and the need to avoid any kind of unilateral actions contradicting the United Nations’ and the OSCE charters.”

UN mission in Kosovo

The Russian Foreign Minister also said the UN mission in Kosovo must not be replaced by other bodies.

"We note Belgrade's consistent stance that is principled and at the same time open to a search for reasonable arrangements that will make like easier for the residents of
Serbian enclaves,"
he said.

Meanwhile, he added, Pristina’s position is “unconstructive.”

“They obstruct the coordination of reasonable arrangements between Belgrade and international factors that work in Kosovo," Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister emphasized the necessity “to be guided by UN Security Council Resolution 1244, respect in full measure the competence and powers of the UN Mission in Kosovo, and prevent other bodies from taking over these powers."

Moscow concerned over Kosovo-Albania unification plans

Lavrov denounced a statement by the Albanian prime minister calling for uniting all Albanians.

“We are very concerned about the Albanian prime minister’s statement,” Lavrov said. “We are convinced that there should be appropriate feedback to the statement – first, from the EU, and from NATO as well. We haven’t had such feedback yet. We hope that despite the fact that no public statements have come from the European capitals, negotiations with Albanian authorities are under way.”

In August, the Albanian premier, Sali Berisha, revealed his “national unity project,” which according to him was based on “European ideals.” It was the first time since Kosovo’s declaration of independence that a top official voiced the idea of uniting Kosovo and Albania.

"The national unity idea is based on European principles and ideals and needs a lot of efforts,” Berisha said in an interview with Kosovo’s TV channel. “Because of that, the Kosovo prime minister, Hashim Taci, and I will work toward removing all barriers that keep Albanians from feeling like a union no matter where they live."

He said there should be no customs controls between Kosovo and Albania, and both states should not look at each other as foreigners. This, he noted, had nothing to do with sovereignty.

Following the announcement, the Serbian foreign ministry sent a protest note to the Albanian embassy in Belgrade over the “provocative statement of the Albanian premier, which was violating Serbia’s sovereignty and integrity.”

Medvedev to visit Belgrade in October

The main purpose of today’s meeting between Lavrov and Jeremic was to discuss the preparations for President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Belgrade on October 20.

"We have many issues to discuss: on the Balkans and in Europe, as well as interaction within international organizations, primarily on security in the region," Lavrov said.

Jeremic stressed said the preparation for the Russian leader’s visit will be a serious task, since “it will be the Russian president's first visit to Serbia in the history of bilateral relations."

The date of Medvedev’s visit will coincide with the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from Nazi occupation by joint Yugoslav and Soviet forces.