Serbian minister accuses West of double standards.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic accused the international community of applying double standards in its dealings with Kosovo and urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe not to trample over its own principle of respecting the territorial integrity of its members.

Draskovic told a meeting of foreign ministers from the OSCE's 56 member states that Serbia will not accept independence for Kosovo and complained that all proposed solutions of the final status of the province ignore Serbia's interests.

"We are victims of double standards. Serbia is being considered a unique case. No borders can be changed except those of Serbia," Draskovic said. "This summit should send a clear message that Serbia is a state like any other state and that its internationally recognized borders cannot be altered or renamed against its will."

The two-day conference of the trans-Atlantic security group focused on Europe's "frozen" conflicts in ex-Soviet republics and Kosovo, which has been run by a U.N. administration as an international protectorate since 1999, after NATO airstrikes ended a crackdown by Belgrade on separatist ethnic Albanian rebels.

The United Nations has been mediating talks on the province's future status. A solution has been postponed until after Jan. 21 parliamentary elections in Serbia for fears a decision unfavorable to Serbia could bring radical forces back to power, but Draskovic said U.S. undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns told him there would be no more delays.

The meeting also centered on long-running disputes in ex-Soviet countries - the so-called "frozen" conflicts in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Russian peacekeepers are accused by Georgia of siding with the separatists; on the pro-Russian separatist Trans-Dniester province of Moldova; and on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Russia clashed with the United States and western European nations over its military involvement on Georgian and Moldovan territories, refusing to discuss its commitment to withdraw troops and effectively ruining chances of a common declaration at the security conference Tuesday.

The OSCE also assessed Kazakhstan's candidacy for 2009 chairmanship of the trans-Atlantic security group, but was likely to recommend that the Central Asian country takes over the rotating annual presidency a year or two later to have more time to implement democratic reforms - despite Kazakhstan's refusal to accept a delay to its bid.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the OSCE of one-sided efforts to push through what he called "politicized solutions" to conflicts in former Soviet republics where the Russians are heavily involved.

"They don't like to be nailed down and told by others what to do," an OSCE official said, adding that Russia refused to discuss withdrawal from Trans-Dniester and the two Georgian regions despite being pressed by many countries to do so. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting continued.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, whose country holds the Vienna, Austria-based OSCE's rotating presidency this year, also said a possible solution was emerging on the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh.

"We have made substantial progress, if not a breakthrough," De Gucht said. "Trust between the two countries has grown considerably, therefore it is highly possible that next year you will see a solution to Nagorno Karabakh."

Armenia and Azerbaijan are discussing terms of holding a referendum on the status of the mountainous region in Azerbaijan that has been under control of Armenian and ethnic Armenian Karabakh forces since the 1994 end of a separatist war.

De Gucht said no agreement was possible on the situation in Georgia at the current conference.

"There is a clear refusal on the Russian side to even discuss it," he told reporters.

The OSCE, a leading international security organization founded in 1975, is concerned particularly with conflict prevention, election observing, crisis management and rehabilitation of post-conflict areas.

[Source: Today.az, Azerbaijan, 06Dec06]

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