UN Security Council Drops Bid for Kosovo Independence | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 20.07.2007
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UN Security Council Drops Bid for Kosovo Independence

Blocked by a Russian veto threat, supporters of a UN plan to grant independence to the Serb province of Kosovo ended their bid in the Security Council on Friday.

The graffiti in Pristina reads No Negotiations - Self Determination. It was proved half right.

The graffiti in Pristina reads "No Negotiations - Self Determination." It was proved half right.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Friday for Serbia and the political leaders of Kosovo to be included in talks on the future of the breakaway Serb republic.

Although approval of a United Nations Security Council resolution on the future status of the territory, remained the main priority, Steinmeier said after talks in Berlin with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Shortly after the minister spoke, however, the United States envoy at the UN said negotiations at the world body on a draft resolution for Kosovo had failed.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Washington would seek a non-UN resolution to the dispute over Kosovo's political future because Russia has blocked Security Council efforts to settle that issue.

"We'll move outside the Security Council process and the Contact Group will take the lead and move forward during the process of negotiations," he told reporters.

Russia blocks resolution on Kosovo's future

USA UN Botschafter Kandidat Zalmay Khalilzad

Khalilzad said the issue would go to the Contact Group

Western nations have been trying to push a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to implement key provisions of UN mediator Martti Ahtissari's plan to grant "supervised independence" to the breakaway Albanian-majority Serbian province.

But they have hurtled into opposition from Moscow, Belgrade's key ally, which has repeatedly threatened to veto a Security Council resolution under discussion.

The Contact Group is composed of the US, Russia, France, Britain, Italy and Germany. In this political body, however, Russia has no veto power.

Russia , Serbia welcome the decision

Later on Friday, Russia welcomed as "logical" the decision at the United Nations in New York to refer the Kosovo independence issue to the Contact Group.

"This is a logical consequence of our active policy," a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to Interfax. "We want to lay the foundations for a continuation of the dialogue with the aim of reaching an agreement between Pristina and Belgrade."

And while Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica hailed the dropped Kosovo independence bid as "an important victory in the UN Security Council" for Serbia and its traditional ally Russia in their attempts to defend " the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia," Kosovo ethnic Albanian Prime Minister Agim Ceku said it would be "better to seek new alternatives" to resolve the future status of the province.

The Kosovo daily Express reported that Ceku had proposed to other Kosovo Albanian politicians to proclaim independence on Nov. 28 -- the independence day in neighboring Albania.

"This was initially an idea how to get out of a situation that has been blocked in the Security Council," Ceku told reporters after meeting the chief UN administrator of Kosovo Joachim Rücker.

French envoy calls for fast solution

Jean-Marc de La Sabliere

De La Sabliere wants a solution sooner rather than later

France's UN Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere echoed Zalmay Khalilzad’s comments.

"We regret that it has been impossible to secure such a resolution in the UN Security Council," Sabliere said. "We will therefore put on hold discussions of a new resolution."

"We have decided to renew discussions within the Contact Group and with the parties along these lines," he added.

"The people of Kosovo should be given the opportunity to realize their political and economic development,” the French envoy continued. “We are determined to assist them in that aim in the period ahead."

"A timely resolving of Kosovo's status will also enable Serbia to move beyond the conflicts of the 1990s and toward a brighter European and Euro-Atlantic future. We believe that resolving Kosovo's status must be achieved as soon as possible."

De la Sabliere concluded by saying that European Union foreign ministers would discuss Kosovo at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

Run by the UN

UN im Kosovo

The UN has been in charge in Kosovo for eight years

Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999, after a NATO bombing campaign helped drive out Serb forces carrying out a brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the population in the province.

The Western compromise draft would have turned over administration of the province from the United Nations to the EU while maintaining a NATO presence.

Russia, however, made it clear it would veto the latest compromise draft introduced to the UN Security Council by Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.

EU's Solana claims talks will go ahead

On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Serbia and Kosovo were likely to hold new talks on the province's future even without a UN Security Council resolution, probably under the aegis of the Contact Group.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned on Thursday that Washington was fully committed to achieving independence for Kosovo, despite Russia's opposition.

"We will get there one way or another," she told journalists on a flight to Lisbon, but she did not say whether Washington was prepared to unilaterally recognize an independent Kosovo.

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