10 July 2007

Top Russian diplomat criticizes proposed U.N. plan for Kosovo

Associated Press, Thursday, February 15, 2007 7:58 AM


MOSCOW-A top Russian diplomat on Thursday criticized a United Nations plan for Kosovo, saying it fails to protect Serbs' interests, Russian news agencies reported.


Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia's special envoy for Kosovo, said that U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan for the breakaway Serbian province needs more work.


"We have serious doubts about the plan's ability to become a good foundation of the negotiations if it contains provisions leading to Kosovo's sovereignty and independence of Kosovo," he was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying.


Serbia's new parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected Ahtisaari's plan, which envisages internationally supervised self-rule for Kosovo, including a flag, anthem, army, constitution and the right to join international organizations. The plan would also give minority Serbs more control over their own local governance.


Ahtisaari's proposal must be approved by the U.N. Security Council to take effect.


Asked whether Russia could veto Ahtisaari's plan at the council, he said Moscow was trying to encourage further talks.


Using "the veto right wasn't a goal in itself," he was quoted as saying. "We must help create favorable conditions for talks."


Botsan-Kharchenko said Ahtisaari's plan could lead to the division of Kosovo.


"Kosovo's Serbs won't accept such decision, they will isolate themselves," he said.