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21Jun07


Russia and Serbia reject new Kosovo resolution.


Russia and Serbia have rejected the latest EU and US plan for status resolution in Kosovo, with the west suggesting 120 days of fresh talks that would automatically end in Kosovo's independence.

The new draft UN security council resolution - seen by AP - urges UN head Ban Ki Moon "to immediately convoke the parties to continue final status negotiations within the 120-day period following adoption of the resolution."

But it says that if Belgrade and Pristina cannot reach agreement in this period, the Martti Ahtisaari plan, which gives Kosovo full independence under temporary supervision by EU and NATO forces, should take effect.

"Any attempt to hide the project of the province's independence behind the idea of putting-off the resolution for a few months is unacceptable," Serb prime minister Vojislav Kostunica said after the plan emerged Wednesday (20 June).

"If the aim of a new resolution is to hold new talks but only so as to try and squeeze through Kosovo's postponed independence, I am completely certain the security council will reject any such resolution," he added.

Russia, a veto-holding power in the UN, backed Mr Kostunica's analysis. "We will not work on this draft," Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said, Russian state newswire Ria Novosti reports.

"The new draft of the Kosovo resolution brings us no closer to a platform that could be used to reach an agreement [on Kosovo]," the senior diplomat added.

Speaking to Finnish TV station YLE, Martti Ahtisaari himself predicted the new idea would not fly, while suggesting the end of the year as a realistic deadline for trying to resolve the international row over the province.

Kosovo - home to 1.8 million ethnic Albanians and over 100,000 ethnic Serbs - was taken over by the UN in 1999 after NATO intervened to stop a Serb crackdown on the Albanian side in a brutal civil war.

The EU and US are keen to grant the status independence, but the 1999 UN resolution 1244 on Serb territorial integrity stands in the way of legalising the western political drive.

The EU is also engaged in a parallel process of gradual integration with Serbia, with Brussels hoping the prospect of EU accession will soften Serb nationalist feeling and pave the way to a solution on Kosovo.

Serbia aims for 2011 EU entry The integration talks restarted last week after a year-long freeze over Serb non-compliance on war criminals, with Serb deputy PM and EU integration negotiator on Wednesday naming 2011 as an EU accession target.

"If we succeed in this [deep reforms], it means that Serbia - I have absolutely no doubt - will be EU-compatible and EU-ready at the end of the mandate of the current government, that is the beginning of 2011," he said, AFP writes.

Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn this week gave details of the EU's 4 billion 2007 to 2009 financial package for the region, with Serbia (572 million) to be the second biggest beneficiary after Turkey (1.6 billion).

But the German EU presidency has made clear the issue of war crimes suspects is not over yet.

"The EU presidency appeals to all relevant parties to maintain the current momentum and ensure that all those who have been indicted but are still at large, especially Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, are arrested and transferred to the [war crimes court in The Hague]," it said in a statement the same day the aid package was unveiled.

[Source: Euobserver, Brussels, 21jun07]

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The Question of Kosovo
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