Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pristina’s diplomatic offensive

30 November 2006 14:46 Source: B92, Beta

MOSCOW, PRIŠTINA, WASHINGTON -- Kosovo Albanian leaders are lobbying in Washington and Moscow, in a bid to secure support for the province’s independence.

Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu is visiting the United States, while prime minister AgimCeku arrived in Russia, where he is scheduled to meet the Russian foreign ministry officials. Ceku said that the goal of his visit was to “encourage Russia to view the Kosovo case in a more realistic way”.”This is a very important visit, which gives both sides an opportunity to exchange opinions regarding Kosovo. My goal is to explain the situation to the Russian officials”, Ceku said after meeting members of a Duma Committee.

According to him, the aim of the visit is to ask Moscow to appeal Belgrade to adopt a more realistic, and allow Kosovo Serbs to engage and build their future in Kosovo. ”I wish to ask the Russian officials to consider Albanians as legitimate partners on the international scene, which would open the doors for the development of the political and economic relations”, Ceku said. The only cabinet member who travels with Ceku is acting communities and return minister Branislav Grbrić, an ethnic Serb, which is telling of the strategy the Kosovo PM intends to use in Moscow. Ceku’s visit is extensively covered in the Priština-based media. Observers believe Russia could have the vital role in reaching a broader international consensus on granting Kosovo independence.

)Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu, meanwhile, is in New York, where he met the future and the current UN secretary-generals and most UN Security Council permanent member states’ ambassadors. Sejdiu is also scheduled to meet a number of U.S. diplomats. Deputy prime minister Lufti Haziri expects Ceku’s visit to Russia to be successful. “Ceku’s visit to Russia is not purely symbolic, this is a historic visit that should confirm the will of our people for independence. We are eagerly expecting Russia’s role in that sense to be positive”, he said.

Some analysts, like Azem Vlasi, warn that the first Russia visit by a Kosovo official should not cause unwarranted optimism, especially bearing in mind Russia’s firm position regarding Kosovo’s final status. “The Russians have already decided against Kosovo’s independence for their own interests, and Ceku’s visit can only be useful if he manages to let them know that Albanians will not give up on independence in any case, that it is not just an alternative for them, and that they will not agree to be the victim of the relations between Russia and other Contact Group countries”, Valsi said.
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