02 April 2007

Kosovo status plan must suit Belgrade: Putin

Reuters, 1/22/2007


SOCHI, Russia . Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday his country will only back international proposals on the final status of Serbia's Kosovo province if it was acceptable to both sides.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in talks with Putin on Russia's Black Sea coast, said she hoped national elections in Serbia on Sunday would strengthen democratic forces in the Balkan country.


"Russia thinks it is unacceptable to impose from outside a decision on the status of Kosovo. A long-term solution of the problem can be achieved only if it suits both Belgrade and Pristina," Putin told a news conference after the talks.


"We think it is not in Europe's interests that one of the sides, let's say Belgrade, should be forced to accept a solution that would be demeaning for the Serbian people."


Russia, historically a close ally of Serbia, is likely to play an important role in Kosovo's future because it could use its veto in the United Nations Security Council to block any proposal on the province's status.


"Naturally, if in Kosovo we solve the problem, this approach, this solution must be universal for similar cases," Putin said.