Kosovo Problem Can Be Solved Under International Law Only.

This is the Russian firm position as voiced by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking ahead of the ministerial meeting of the Contact Group for Kosovo, taking place on Thursday in New York.

The Contact Group is made up of Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United States, and France.

The majority of the groupís members want Belgrade and Pristina to negotiate the future status of Kosovo, predominantly populated by Albanians, but America strongly believes in a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. Speaking on that point, Pyotr Iskenderov said:

American state and government officials have repeatedly voiced support for Kosovoís independence and President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have severally stressed that Kosovo will become independent one way or another.

Such statements could have been calmly ignored but for one reason: The US, Russia and the EU are members of the international mediation group that is supposed to help bring about direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina.

The troika has a UN mandate to help to facilitate negotiations leading to the solution of the problem of the future status of Kosovo.

We are now witnessing a classic moral paradox: on the one hand, America, under the auspices of the UN, has agreed to mediate negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, but on the other hand, the same America, through Secretary of State Rice, is pushing for such a solution of the Kosovo quagmire that Serbia will not accept under any circumstance.

"Independence for Kosovo is the only solution that can lead to stability in the Balkans", Rice has declared backstage of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Developments have clearly shown that right from the start Washington had viewed the Belgrade-Pristina talks as worthless.

The US had taken a decision on the issue and had duly briefed Kosovo Albanians. That decision is that Belgrade either accepts a forgone conclusion about the independence of Kosovo or western nations, led as usual by the mighty US, will unilaterally recognize the independence of the Serbian province.

Sergei Lavrov was warning precisely against such prodding, and he hopes that all those interested in a speedy disentangling of the Kosovo knot will do all in their power to assist the feuding sides to find a mutually acceptable way out. But we have seen that America has other ideas.

[Source: Voice of Russia, Moscow, 27Sep07]

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