Barcelone, Capital of Catalonia. Manifestation "1-D"
December 1, 2007
Hopes Dim for U.N. Solution for Kosovo
UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council signaled Wednesday that it would not be able to resolve the status of Kosovo, the breakaway Serbian province, and that a solution would have to come from outside the United Nations.
John Sawers, the British ambassador, emerged from a closed Council meeting to say that what he had heard inside from Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian prime minister, and Fatmir Sejdiu, the president of Kosovo, “underlined just how enormous the gulf is between the two parties.”
Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, said that the two had “irreconcilable differences” and that the time had come to proceed with granting Kosovo the independence it has sought but Serbia has resisted.
“The continuation of the status quo poses not only a threat to peace and stability in Kosovo but also to the region and in Europe,” Mr. Khalilzad said.
Mr. Sawers said the European Union would proceed based on the plan for “supervised independence” with protections for the Serbian minority developed by Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations envoy, and sent to the Council in March. Serbia and Russia, its ally on the Council, had rejected that plan because it led to independence for Kosovo.
The dispute has pitted the principles of sovereignty and self-determination against each other and produced a stand-off between Serbia, backed vigorously by Russia, and Kosovo, supported by the United States and the European Union.
Massimo D’Alema, the foreign minister of Italy, who presided over Wednesday’s session as this month’s Council president, said the intervention of Russia and the United States had pushed the Serbian government and Kosovo even farther apart.
He said that President Boris Tadic of Serbia had told him, “I can’t let the Russians be more Serbian than me.” And the Kosovars, Mr. D’Alema said, “can’t let themselves appear less Kosovar than President Bush.”
While Mr. D’Alema said Italy backed the European Union plan for Kosovo’s independence, he said “the Americans have underestimated the difficulties of the situation.”
Leaders of Kosovo’s 1.8 million ethnic Albanians have said they will declare their independence only in coordination with the United States and Europe, both of whom have counseled against abrupt action. Mr. D’Alema said he believed that the declaration would be made in March. Kosovo, a province of Serbia with a population that is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, has been administered by the United Nations since 1999, when an American-led NATO bombing campaign ended Serbian repression of the Albanian majority.
Serbia, with the strong backing of Russia, says it will never agree to the departure of Kosovo, which it views as a cradle of Serbian nationhood.
Serbia is instead offering a return to the autonomy it had as part of the former Yugoslavia.
Wednesday’s meeting occurred after four months of talks among Belgrade and Pristina and mediators from the United States, Russia and the European Union that were held to satisfy Russian demands for more time. The West contends that the talks produced no movement and Moscow argues that they were substantive and should continue.