Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Russia supports Kosovo independence?

BELGRADE -- Wednesday – Director of the International Crisis Group for Europe, Nicholas White, said that all member countries of the Contact Group, Russia included, believe that granting Kosovo conditional independence is the only solution.

White told daily Vecernje Novosti that Kosovo will definitely become independent, either this or next year, and that the main topic of discussion will be how to ensure that Serbs and other minorities will be able to remain in the region safely.

“At the end of last year, the taboo on Kosovo independence was broken in Paris, because everyone was talking about independence before the Russian officials, who did not have any arguments to counter the proposal. Even earlier, diplomatic sources in Moscow gave signals that Russia would accept conditional independence. On the other side, Russia has clearly made Serbia aware that they will not use their veto at the United Nations Security Council meeting.” White said, adding that similar signals were sent to Serbia from Italy and France.

“The discussions serve to secure the existence of the minorities, taking care of the question of northern Kosovo, and to find a temporary solution from conditional to full independence. In order for Kosovo to join international organisations it must implement standards that would qualify the state, and that will include a lot of work which the international community must help with.” White said.

He added that there have been no serious proposals from Belgrade on how to reintegrate Serbs in Kosovo and that the “more about autonomy, less about independence,” mantra of the Serbian side sounds like Serbia wishes to keep its international responsibility for Kosovo, without having any essential contents to their plan. B92

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