Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Russia tries to block Kosovo’s independence

The UN Security Council and the NATO Council will discuss the situation with Kosovo at their meetings on Monday. A special meeting of the UN Security Council for Kosovo, which Russia summons Monday will be held openly. Serbia’s President Boris Tadic will participate in the meeting upon Russia’s initiative.

The USA and the EU intend to replace the UN mission in Kosovo with their own peacemaking contingent. UN’s Secretary General Pan Ki-Moon stood up against such a possibility. For the time being, officials try to find out if Kosovo’s independence can be considered a precedent which other unrecognized authorities may follow.

“We are very glad that we have managed to insist on the format of the meeting that will let the Serbian president describe Belgrade’s position on the problem to the whole world, not just to the UN Security Council,” Russia’s official representative at the UN, Vitaly Churkin said.

Moscow and Belgrade believe that Kosovo’s independence violates the norms of international rights, the UN Charter and the adequate resolution of the Security Council.

Kosovo is a self-declared independent republic in southeastern Europe. After international negotiations failed to reach a consensus on an acceptable constitutional status, Kosovo's provisional government unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, terming itself as the Republic of Kosovo.The new state is anticipated to receive partial international recognition from most European countries and the United States. The Serbian government regards the territory as an integral part of Serbia, the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.

Following the Kosovo War in 1999, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under the authority of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with security provided by the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). Although the Resolution legally affirmed Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo, in practice Serbian governance in the region has been virtually non-existent since then. UNMIK's role in Kosovo is in the process of being superseded by EULEX, a European Union body. KFOR continues to provide security. The legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence is disputed by Serbia, which also opposes the EU's takeover of UNMIK's responsibilities. The international community is divided on the issue, with Russia and several EU members backing Serbia's position.

Russia tried to block Kosovo's independence during a closed-door emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, saying it is deeply concerned about the safety of Serbs living in the territory.

The discussion of the 15-member council on Sunday continued to expose divisions among members on the future of Kosovo. Russia backs its close ally Serbia, while the United States, Britain, France and other European Union members support Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians.

China, a veto-wielding U.N. Security Council member that had close ties with the Yugoslav government of Slobodan Milosevic, expressed its "deep concern" Monday over Kosovo's declaration and called on the province to reach a "proper solution through negotiations" with Serbia.

The council met at the request of Serbia and Russia, which argue that Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia made earlier Sunday violates a 1999 council resolution that authorizes the U.N. to administer the territory.

The session got off to a rocky start; shortly after it began, it had to be suspended for a couple hours because of a lack of interpreters.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Serbia's president told him that Kosovo's declaration carries no legal weight, while Kosovo's prime minister assured him he was committed to "equal opportunities and no discrimination" against anyone in Kosovo, the AP reports.

Ban urged all sides to "refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, incite violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo and the region."

The Security Council resolution on Kosovo remains in force and the U.N. "will continue to implement its mandate in the light of the evolving circumstances," Ban said.

AP photo

Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov

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