Russia rejects latest Kosovo draft

MOSCOW, HELSINKI -- Russia has rejected the fifth U.S.-EU sponsored draft UN resolution on the future Kosovo status.

Beta news agency reports from Moscow that Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov described the proposed resolution as in essence being the same as previous drafts, based on the same status plan for the province’s supervised independence backed by Western countries.

"The problem of a decision on the independence of Kosovo has not been taken off the agenda," Lavrov told journalists Thursday.

Lavrov added that behind the diplomatic rhetoric lay a conclusion that UN Kosovo Envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s plan should be implemented if the proposed 120 days of renewed talks between Belgrade and Priština failed to produce a compromise.

Earlier Thursday, Russia indicated it will need "several days" to study the draft, according to a foreign ministry official's statement.

"We have received a new draft resolution, and our experts are carefully studying it now. There is no need to hurry here.”

“What matters most is not the speed but the quality of analysis," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov told Interfax.

He added that "several days are needed to study the document."

In a bid to win Russian support, Western nations revised a resolution to call for four months of intensive negotiations between Priština and Belgrade without any promise of independence if talks fail, according to a text obtained Wednesday.

Russia had dismissed the previous draft as unacceptable.

The now defunct version also called for four months of negotiations between the two sides on the province's future status but would have authorized an automatic road to independence if there was no agreement, unless the UN Security Council decided otherwise.

“Latest draft: last attempt to win Russia over”

The latest U.S.-EU sponsored draft resolution is the limit to which the West is ready to stretch its concessions toward Moscow.

The draft in question that currently circulates in the UN Security Council does not mention the status of Kosovo, while Serbia’s sovereignty over the province confirmed in the UN Resolution 1244 remains the most debatable issue, Priština daily Koha Ditore writes in its Thursday edition.

The newspaper quoted its diplomatic sources at the United Nations as saying that the EU and U.S. devised the document so as to win over Russia’s support.

“We gave our maximum and we all agree that, should this draft fail as well, other steps have to be taken.”

“However, we are still optimistic that the agreement with Russia over the latest draft can be reached,” the sources said.

They added that Ahtisaari’s blueprint would remain Plan B if the talks between Belgrade and Priština proved fruitless.

According to them, Moscow’s reaction is what everyone is now awaiting. Nonetheless, Koha’s sources said that Russia already gave a tacit consent for the replacement of the UN mission in Kosovo with that of the EU.

Ahtisaari: Russia weakening its position by Kosovo stance

Russia would diminish its international stature by blocking negotiations over Kosovo's future status, the UN envoy overseeing the talks said in an interview published Thursday.

"It is too small an issue to give Russia a possibility to stress its power. Rather than strengthening its international position, Russia only weakens it by this," UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari told Finnish newspaper Lansi-Savo.

In April, Ahtisaari recommended Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence—a proposal supported by the province's ethnic Albanians, but rejected by Serbia and its traditional ally Russia.

In a bid to win Russian support, Western nations have revised a UN resolution to call for intensive negotiations between Kosovo's ethnic Albanians and Serbs without a promise of independence if talks fail.

Earlier Thursday veto-wielding Russia said it needed time to study the new UN draft solution.

"Now it [Russia] can cause the UN real problems unless the Security Council is able to come to a clear conclusion," Ahtisaari was quoted as saying.

"In that case, the situation would become very difficult to handle in all respects."

Ahtisaari dismissed concerns that the province's ethnic Albanian leaders could declare independence unilaterally if the council did not approve a path to independence.

"I don't think they really consider that. Independence must take place in a coordinated way," Ahtisaari said.