04 April 2006

Russian Duma backs Serbia's stand on Kosovo

BBC Monitoring Worldwide - March 9, 2006, Thursday


Excerpt from report by Russian news agency Interfax


Moscow, 9 March: Russian parliament members believe that at present it is premature to tackle at the international level the issue of Kosovo's independence, the head of the State Duma international committee, Konstantin Kosachev, has said.


"A delegation of our committee visited the Balkans last May, and we could see for ourselves that the problem of standards has not been resolved absolutely, and therefore it is too early to move on to the issue of Kosovo's status. It seems to us that the attempts of the international community to speed up the issue are politicized and can only aggravate the situation," Kosachev said at today's meeting of committee members with Serbian Coordination Centre for Kosovo-Metohija chairwoman Sanda Raskovic-Ivic who is currently on a visit to Moscow.


"We are convinced that no decisions on Kosovo can be taken bypassing the positions of Serbia and Montenegro," Kosachev stressed. He expressed his satisfaction that the Russia and Serbia share the same view on the issue and recalled that Russia had always played an active role with regard to the situation in the Balkans.


In turn, Raskovic-Ivic noted that the Serbian authorities are ready to grant wide autonomy to Kosovo, but nothing more than that. "I would like to convey a message from the government and the people of Serbia who want to see Kosovo within the framework of our state. We are ready to give Kosovo more than autonomy but less than independence, and we will not agree that Kosovo should have the right of an international subject," she said.


She noted that despite ongoing aggressive actions on the part of Albanian extremists, the Serbian authorities express their readiness to carry out further talks with the Albanian side. [Passage omitted: Serbia has invested much money in developing Kosovo's economy]


She has expressed her gratitude to the leadership and all bodies of power of Russia for their participation in tackling the problem of the Balkans.


"It is possible that Serbs have slightly raised expectations of help from Russia, but we do not have any other friends and we hope that Russia will not allow the USA to become the leader of Europe, she said.


Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1307 gmt 9 Mar 06