Solution for Kosovo in February or Early March
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said in Brussels that the U.S. wishes to see the U.N. Security Council adopt a resolution on Kosovo in February or early March next year. Burns added that he is surprised by the statement of the Russian ambassador to Belgrade that Russia may possibly veto the solution for Kosovo's status.
On Dec. 4, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Alexeyev said Russia will use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council unless a solution for Kosovo is acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina.
Burns said further that the Russian ambassador "may have been misquoted," and added that he is "very surprised to hear something like that."
"We have not heard something like that in years, he might have been misquoted. I cannot believe that a permanent representative to the U.N. Security Council is threatening to use his veto, even before we have seen Martti Ahtisaari's proposal," Burns noted.
The U.S. official reiterated that Ahtisaari will present his proposal on Kosovo after the Jan. 21 elections in Serbia. In his words, it was agreed at the OSCE session in Brussels that the OSCE should be present in Kosovo after reaching the status solution.
"The U.S. supports that. The Security Council will be requested to adopt a resolution on the status and we wish to see it happen very soon, let's say within a month after the vote in Serbia, which means in February or early March next year," Burns said. He added that it has been seven years "since the end of the war in Kosovo," and that "it is time to give the Kosovo people a certain concept for the future."
"Last week, I spoke with the Kosovo president and premier, Fatmir Sejdiu and Agim Ceku, and with Ahtisaari, and we believe that the Kosovo Albanian leadership is doing what should encourage tolerance toward the Serb community and to maintain a peaceful period before the U.N. Security Council will decide on the status in early 2007," Burns explained.
BURNS SURPRISED BY RUSSIAN VETO ANNOUNCEMENT
Nicholas Burns is surprised by statement made by Russia’s ambassador to Serbia.
Russian ambassador to Serbia Aleksandar Alekseyev told B92 that Russia is set to use its veto right at the UN Security Council should Kosovo status solution fail to be acceptable for both Belgrade and Pristina.
“I cannot believe that a permanent member of the Security Council is threatening to veto even though we have not seen Ahtisaari’s proposal yet,” the U.S. undersecretary of state said.
Burns said that the Russian ambassador “might have been misquoted,” and added that he is “very surprised” to hear “something like that.”
Such statements “are not constructive”
American ambassador to Serbia, Michael Polt, shared the State Department’s worry regarding the possibility of Russia vetoing a final status solution for Kosovo, adding that such statements are not constructive.
He said that he has not talked to Alekseyev about the situation yet.
“We have to be very careful and see what was really said, and that is that Russia will use its influence to react against something that infringes on its interests. That is a completely natural statement because Russia takes care of its own interests.” Polt said.
“But, as I said earlier, Russia is a very constructive member of the Contact Group, where we will cooperate to find a solution for Kosovo which is acceptable for the citizens of Kosovo and we wish to work together with Russia to find such a solution.” Polt said.
Russia Will Veto Kosovo Solution Unless Acceptable for Both Sides — Envoy
Russia could use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block a solution for Kosovo’s status if both sides are not in agreement, Russia’s ambassador to Serbia said Monday, according to a news report.
Russia would veto any solution for the contested province that is not agreed upon by both Serbia and the province’s separatist ethnic Albanians, Aleksander Alexeyev said, according to B92 Radio and Television.
“In case the status solution is not acceptable to both sides — both Belgrade and Pristina — the Russian side will use its veto power,” Alekseyev was quoted as saying.
There was no immediate confirmation of the comments by the Russian Embassy in Belgrade. Alexeyev spoke in Russian with a Serbian translation by B92, The Associated Press reports.
Kosovo is formally part of Serbia, but its majority ethnic Albanians overwhelmingly support independence for the province — the demand that Serbia has vowed never to accept.
International talks aimed at defining a solution for Kosovo started early this year under U.N. mediation, but so far have produced no result because the two sides remain entrenched in their positions.
The Kosovo issue is believed to be the last potential flashpoint in the Balkans.
Following lack of progress in the talks, U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari has started working on a proposal for the province. The draft solution is expected to be presented to major world powers of the so-called Contact Group, and the two sides in the talks early next year.
The future solution also needs approval at the U.N. Security Council — where Russia has veto power — before it can take effect.
Serbian officials repeatedly have said they count on Russia’s veto in the Security Council to prevent Kosovo independence, but Alexeyev comments to B92 mark the first time a Russian official confirmed such a possibility. There was no immediate comment from Moscow.
Russia in the past has urged both sides to find a negotiated settlement and warned against one-sided solutions. Moscow fears that Kosovo independence could set a precedent for Russian-backed separatist regions in the former Soviet Union.
Kosovo became an international protectorate in 1999, after NATO intervened in the province to stop a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.
Russia is considered to be a traditional Serbian ally. Both countries share strong cultural, historic and religious ties.