Resolution for Kosovo independence circulating
UNITED NATIONS – The United States and European Union nations circulated a U.N. resolution Friday endorsing independence for Kosovo under international supervision despite strong objections from Russia which wants new negotiations between the province’s majority Albanians and minority Serbs.The resolution’s supporters said they want swift action on the resolution, which would end U.N. administration of the Serb province in 120 days and hand over the supervised transition to the European Union. NATO-led troops would remain to help ensure security and an international civilian administrator would be appointed.U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday supporters have enough votes in the Security Council to adopt the resolution unless Russia casts a veto.Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has circulated elements for a rival Security Council resolution calling for additional talks between officials in Serbia and Kosovo and stepped-up efforts to meet U.N.-endorsed standards, including protecting minorities and ensuring that Serbs who were forced to flee their homes can return to Kosovo.Asked Friday whether Russia would introduce its own resolution, Russia’s deputy ambassador Konstantin Dolgov said the EU-U.S. text was being sent to Moscow and “all possibilities are open.”Kosovo is a province of Serbia, but it has been under U.N. and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.Last month, U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence – a proposal welcomed by its Albanian majority but vehemently rejected by its Serb minority, Serbia and Russia which has strong cultural and religious ties to the Serbs.The draft resolution, which is backed by the U.S., the EU’s council members France, Britain, Slovakia, Belgium and Italy, would be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which deals with threats to peace and security and can be militarily enforced.It expresses appreciation to Ahtisaari “and endorses the provisions” in his comprehensive settlement proposal.”With this resolution, the discussion on the future status of Kosovo now enters its final phase,” France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said. “The council must meet its responsibilities to ensure the success of the process that it had initiated. We hope to be able to wrap things up within a few weeks.”But Russia remains a big question mark. Churkin has danced around the possibility of a veto – alluding to the possibility, but making no firm statement.When asked Thursday, Churkin noted that there has never been a proposal for part of a country to be given independence.China’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Liu Zhenmin, called Thursday for “patience, flexibility and caution.””If the council is going to impose a solution,” Liu said Friday, “we’re afraid whether it would be helpful or not.”Given the seemingly irreconcilable differences between the Kosovo Albanians who insist on independence and the Serbs who are demanding to remain part of Serbia, it seemed a council-imposed solution might be the only way.Liu said the two sides have had no real negotiations and “at least one party is still appealing for negotiations, so we should encourage … them to negotiate.”The EU-U.S. draft resolution recognizes “the specific circumstances that make Kosovo a special case, including the historical context of Yugoslavia’s violent and nonconsensual break-up, as well as the massive violence and repression that took place in Kosovo in the period up to and including 1999.”It reaffirms the Security Council’s commitment “to a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo, which will reinforce regional stability,” and underscores the council’s “determination not to tolerate violence, provocation or intimidation.”While recognizing that progress has been made on implementing the U.N.-endorsed standards, it calls for further implementation and reaffirms “the urgent necessity for more progress on the return of internally displaced persons and refugees” – a key Russian demand.