The world is increasingly aware of Russia’s position on the problem of Kosovo.

Early parliamentary elections are due in Serbia on Sunday, the first ones following the break-up of the Serbia-Montenegro state.

Although those running for parliament bitterly attack each other, they all agree that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia.

You may remember that Serbia favours a broader autonomy status for Kosovo, but within a single state.

Now, Kosovo Albanians making up a majority of the province population are pressing for independence.

Meanwhile the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has said that a settlement in Kosovo is a major problem for the international community for this year.

He feels the lack of a solution threatens stability in the whole of South East Europe. And this is what a Russian expert on Balkans affairs Peter Iskenderov thinks on the issue.

The new UN Secretary-General's statement, Peter Iskenderov says, seem to reflect the world community's growing concern about the future of the Serbian province Kosovo.

An ever greater number of international politicians underscore the importance of a balanced solution that would meet the interests of all parties to the Kosovo conflict and general stability in Europe.

In this context it is impossible to ignore the growing awareness of a Kosovo settlement precedent.

A mere couple of months ago it was only Russia that warned of this, whereas now ever more European politicians make similar statements.

The Italian Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema believes that if Kosovo gains independence, the entire Balkan region may be swept over by a wave of nationalist movements.

The scenario is perfectly real, given the attention that the numerous separatist forces have been giving to the process of a settlement in Kosovo.

European politicians have also been increasingly aware of the importance of another idea that Russian diplomats have been consistently advocating with regard to Kosovo, namely the need for finding a negotiated solution that would suit both the Serbs and Albanians.

The Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis repeated the idea actually word-for-word when saying during his talks with the Serbian President Boris Tadic on Tuesday that the interested parties should find a solution to the province status that would prove acceptable to one and all.

President Vladimir Putin reiterated, for his part, Russia's position on Kosovo in a recent telephone conversation with the Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

Simultaneously the deputy Russian Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov told the EU envoy to Kosovo Stefan Lene in Moscow that a solution to the problem should provide for guaranteeing the rights of national minorities, while no efforts should be made to artificially whip up the negotiating process.

The Russian Foreign Ministry insists that a decision on a Kosovo status should not be imposed.

[Source: Voice of Russia, Moscow, 20Jan07]

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