Kosovo talks end without deal

A n attempt by international mediators to negotiate a settlement on Kosovo's future status ended in a stalemate Wednesday, with neither Serbia nor kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders willing to budge.

Kosovo talks end without deal
Envoys from the U.S., European Union and Russia acknowledged the talks failed to produce an agreement, but said the rival sides both pledged to refrain from using force.

"Both sides have made it clear to us that they are committed to avoiding violence," EU negotiator Wolfgang Ischinger told reporters after three days of deadlocked negotiations. "This commitment to peace must continue."

The stalemate raised the stakes before Dec. 10 — the envoys' deadline to report back to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — and Kosovo's repeated vow to declare statehood sometime in the coming months. Ischinger conceded the talks had "explored every humanly known option."

Kosovo has vowed to declare independence unilaterally if the U.N. Security Council does not sign off on statehood, and Serbia has threatened to impose an economic and travel blockade — stoking concerns of renewed unrest in the volatile western Balkans.

"We regret that the parties were not able to find a solution that was acceptable to each other, despite their hard work and the careful exploration of all the options," said the chief U.S. mediator, Frank Wisner.

"The peace of the region is very much at stake," Wisner warned. "It is a volatile region. We're going into a very difficult time."

"Regrettably, there has been no agreement with Serbia," Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu told reporters in the Austrian spa town of Baden, where three days of intensive talks at a castle hotel concluded Wednesday morning.

Kosovo's leaders have hinted they will declare independence early in 2008.

Sejdiu shrugged off Serbia's fierce opposition to statehood for Kosovo, saying the province "will not be held hostage" to those who object.

Serbia will impose a "complete economic and travel blockade" of Kosovo, including cutting off electricity supplies to the province and banning ethnic Albanians and their goods from crossing the borders, a senior Serbian official said in Belgrade on Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.

"The way these negotiations started, they must end, and that is in the U.N. Security Council," Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said.

This week's talks concluded a four-month diplomatic effort that began after the collapse last summer 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.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Kasım 2007, 11:50