Holbrooke blasts Russia's Kosovo policy

Richard Holbrooke believes the Kosovo government is not the only one to blame for the stalled recognition process.

The former U.S. Balkans envoy, currently visiting Priština, pointed the finger at "Russia's aggressive campaign", and said this country is to blame for the fact only one quarter of UN member states have recognized Kosovo.

Ethnic Albanians in the province in February this year unilaterally declared independence, which Belgrade, but also Moscow, rejected as illegal.

Today, Holbrooke told Radio-Television Kosovo that "nobody expected Russia's campaign, since it was unnecessary".

"This is very serious and represents a great shame, what Russia has done. Still, the number of countries recognizing Kosovo will grow, and that matters the most. I believe that the Kosovo people should not worry about it so much. Your independence and freedom are absolutely guaranteed. What used to be will never return," Tanjug news agency quoted this former diplomat as saying.

He also expressed his belief that the Islamic Conference countries, not only Arab ones, are making a mistake when they slow down the process, and added these states should recognize Kosovo.

"I hope they will recognize. Still, they have been under great pressure from Russia not to do so. The United States is in favor, but Russia is trying to at every step create problems for the U.S. policies. However, I think this will be overcome. It will take more time, but I wouldn't worry if I lived in Kosovo," Holbrooke reassured his hosts.

He also expressed concern about the state of economy in Kosovo, especially the high unemployment rate, and recommended that "the government and the people should create some program that would create jobs".

Holbrooke was due to address the assembly in Priština later on Tuesday.

[Source: B92, Pristina, 09Sep08]

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