Croatian newspaper says Russia, West close to compromise on Kosovo

161.jpgRussia, the EU and the United States have reached a compromise that could help remove a key obstacle to determining Kosovo’s final status, according to a report in a major Croatian daily on Monday (May 28th).

Quoting sources “close to the Russian leadership”, Jutarnji List said Moscow would not block a Security Council resolution based on former UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s recommendations, if the West accepts its conditions.

“If Moscow shows readiness to accept the plan … then Brussels and Washington, would in exchange, accept a two-year moratorium on Kosovo’s membership in the UN,” the paper reported.

In addition, Russia’s military presence in Kosovo would be revived, particularly in the Serb enclaves. Moscow contributed a contingent of several thousand to KFOR at the end of the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, but later withdrew its peacekeepers.

A third condition, according to Jutarnji List, is that NATO does not extend membership invitations to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia in 2008, when it is expected to invite Albania, Croatia and Macedonia to join it as full members.

Russian diplomats believe that a settlement that meets these conditions would suit the West, which seeks a decision on Kosovo without delay. The issue is expected to be high on the agenda of the three-day Group of Eight summit, opening in the German resort of Heiligendamm on June 6th.

Ahead of that meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned US counterpart George W. Bush on Monday. White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the two leaders had agreed to continue “their dialogue on Kosovo and other issues of mutual concern”.

Meanwhile, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic reiterated on Monday his country’s hope for continued negotiations on Kosovo’s future. Belgrade wants the province to be given internationally supervised autonomy for between ten and 20 years, before a final decision on status is taken.

During a visit to Sarajevo Monday, Jeremic warned that a unilateral move to declare Kosovo’s independence could jeopardise regional stability.

“In the future, things could return again to the 1990s,” he told reporters at a news conference, following talks with his Bosnia and Herzegovina counterpart Sven Alkalaj.

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