Kosovo talks are deadlocked

Talks on the future of Kosovo are deadlocked, a spokesman for Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership said Tuesday.

Kosovo talks are deadlocked
Talks on the future of Kosovo are deadlocked, a spokesman for Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership said Tuesday, accusing Serbia of refusing to deal with the Kosovo as a "de facto independent country."

Skender Hyseni told reporters that Belgrade — which insists Kosovo remain part of Serbian territory — "continues to offer a recipe for frozen conflicts and half-solutions which don't take us anywhere."

"I am convinced that nothing spectacular will happen. ... Belgrade refuses to approach Kosovo as a de facto independent country," Hyseni said as internationally mediated talks — the final session before a Dec. 10 U.N. deadline — entered their second day with no breakthrough in sight.

Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia's representative to the "troika" that also includes envoys from the U.S. and the European Union, told reporters that Moscow would insist the talks go on even after the envoys' deadline to report back to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

This week's session in the Austrian spa town of Baden is seen as a last-ditch attempt for a negotiated settlement.

But Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority has not budged on its quest for full independence from Serbia, and Serbian leaders have refused to back down from their insistence that the southern province remain part of Serbia.

The rival sides' entrenched positions — and a bleak assessment from the chief Western envoy overseeing the talks — raised the likelihood that Kosovo will declare independence unilaterally at some point after Dec. 10.

Critics, including Russia — an ally of Serbia that insists the U.N. Security Council have the final say on its status — contend a unilateral declaration of independence would plunge the Balkans back into turmoil and set a dangerous precedent for other separatist movements worldwide.

EU representative Wolfgang Ischinger made clear that this week's session, which runs through Wednesday morning at a castle hotel, was "one last opportunity to seek a negotiated settlement."

Asked whether he saw anything to suggest that talks should continue after the deadline, he said: "My answer is no."

Although Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia, the southern province has been run by the U.N. and NATO since 1999, when the Western military alliance launched an air war that ended former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian fighters.

Underscoring how wide apart the two sides remain, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Belgrade "will not let an inch of its territory be taken away."

Speculation has grown that an incKosovo might declare independence early in 2008.

Thaci said that Kosovo was "ready to take our decision" — a reference to a declaration — and said he and other leaders hoped the U.S. and the EU would recognize the province as an independent state soon thereafter.

The closed-door talks in Baden close out a bitter series of meetings between the rival sides since the collapse earlier this year of a blueprint for eventual independence drawn up by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

Ahtisaari's plan called for internationally supervised statehood for Kosovo. But Moscow threatened to veto the proposal at the Security Council, prompting the EU, U.S. and Russia to mount another attempt at a negotiated settlement.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Kasım 2007, 15:51
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