30 March 2007

Kosovo decision must satisfy both Pristina and Belgrade - Lavrov


MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - A decision on the sovereignty of Kosovo, which is being demanded by the predominantly Albanian population in the historically Serbian region, must satisfy both Kosovo and Serbian authorities, the Russian foreign minister said Tuesday.

On Monday, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica discussed the Kosovo situation by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari's proposal on the restive region, which, as some Western officials say, is expected to offer some form of independence for the province.

"The decision on Kosovo's status should be balanced and reached by means of negotiations, and should be acceptable both for Kosovo authorities and Belgrade," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, has repeatedly said that sovereignty for the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo, which is sought by the ethnic Albanian majority but opposed by Belgrade, could have negative consequences for unresolved conflicts in the former Soviet Union that erupted in the early 1990s.

"A forced decision on the status of Kosovo is out of the question," Lavrov added.

The province's final status was to have been determined by the end of last year, but a decision was put off until after a general election in Serbia January 21.

Last November, thousands of Kosovo Albanians attacked the United Nations headquarters in the capital, Pristina, over a delayed decision on their demand for independence. The region has been a UN protectorate since NATO's military campaign against Belgrade in 1999.