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17 December 2007

The situation in Kosovo settlement has reached the critical line.

The authorities in Kosovo unambiguously speak of an intention to unilaterally declare their independence in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1244. Instead of putting an end to the provocative statements we are becoming witnesses of connivance by a group of countries at this illegal move which may lead to serious adverse consequences for regional and international stability. In substantiation of that position they forlornly suggest that the province's independence is inevitable, supposedly having been brought about by all events of the previous period.

This evolving situation is a direct consequence of the serious distortions in Kosovo settlement, to which the Russian side has invariably drawn the partners' attention. The key objectives of achieving high politico-democratic standards of life in the province, proclaimed by the international community and flowing from UNSCR 1244, were replaced with a policy of accelerated sovereignization of Kosovo. The non-Albanian population, primarily the Serbs, still have not got minimum guarantees of security and the ensuring of their rights, and the problem of refugees' return to Kosovo is in no way being tackled. The declared slogan of building a multiethnic society actually turns into its opposite.

By encouraging the separatist aspirations of Pristina, the US and some EU nations openly ignore the useful ideas and suggestions resulting from the talks held between the sides under the aegis of the mediation troika. The fact that in the 120 days of dialogue a final compromise has eluded the parties is being used for absurd claims that the negotiation potential is exhausted. What will happen in the world if the same yardstick is applied to other conflicts?

The reality, however, is that the parties were successfully drawn into a close direct dialogue, the most substantive since 1999. Belgrade and Pristina embarked on overcoming their alienation, and the talks themselves became a serious factor working for stability in the region. The results would have been more impressive if destructive signals had not been continuously sent from certain capitals that they support the idea of Kosovo independence. The launched process, in our firm conviction, offers a chance of eventually arriving at a solution. But one gets the impression that this is why somebody would like to wreck the dialogue as soon as possible in order to fulfill their promises to the Kosovo separatists.

The situation is fraught with a downward slide to an uncontrolled crisis unless settlement stays on an international legal course. Instead of this we see a feverish search for pseudo-legal arguments as a smokescreen for unilateral actions in Kosovo affairs. Now there are attempts to completely distort UNSCR 1244, from which our partners have got used to singling out only the obligations of Belgrade, but not of Pristina. They claim that it does not close the way for Kosovo independence and allows for changing international presences bypassing the UNSC and without the consent of the sides. Such tightrope walking and such unilateral interpretation of SC resolutions undermine the authority of the decisions of the Security Council in crisis settlement.

Behind-the-scenes maneuvering is going on around the United Nations leadership, whom they want, in breach of their prerogatives, to induce towards legitimizing future illegal moves. We are convinced that no one will succumb to blackmail. The authority of the UN is at stake. Kosovo settlement cannot occur outside the Security Council, the UN's main body responsible for international peace and security.

Equally worrying are the Kosovo Force plans for repressive measures in the province against those who will not want to put up with Kosovo independence. Instead of restraining the separatists, KFOR is getting ready to suppress their opponents. This is a direct violation of its mandate, ruling out actions in favor of one side; it is a path leading to a direct confrontation of the force with the province's non-Albanian population.

We call on the UNSC permanent members, the Contact Group partners and the EU countries to once again consider all the consequences of a unilateral sovereignization of Kosovo, retain the settlement process in an international legal field and refrain from hasty decisions fraught with a destructive precedent for the entire system of international relations.

We stand for the continuation of dialogue between the sides and are open for discussion of its format and modalities. In the interest of stimulating the negotiation process, as in the resolution of other crisis situations, we suggest developing a roadmap in whose framework the well-substantiated interests of the sides and the priorities of leading international factors of Kosovo settlement could be taken into account and the landmarks outlined for movement by the sides towards agreement, including on lines of their Euro-integration perspective.

The Kosovo settlement Rubicon should be passed without tragic upheavals. Responsibility for this lies on all of us.

by vladimir on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 04:08:11 AM EST

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