EU and Russia meet as Kosovo independence looms

BRDO, Slovenia – The European Union sought to convince Russia on Wednesday that the status-quo in Kosovo is unsustainable, the EU’s external relations commissioner said.

“The status quo (in Kosovo) cannot be maintained because we want stability in the area. We hope we will be able to convince Russia that the situation is unsustainable,” Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters just before a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Kosovo’s future and Moscow’s opposition to its independence from Serbia was set to dominate the meeting. Kosovo’s Albanian leaders are expected to declare independence on Sunday and gain early recognition from most Western states.

Lavrov said on Tuesday before coming to Slovenia that a unilateral declaration of independence would undermine security in Europe.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana sought to play down the importance of Kosovo on the agenda.

“We are going to talk about many things today but the main issue we are going to deal with today is how to deepen the relationship between the European Union and Russia,” said Solana.

He said they would talk about a new EU partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia. Poland has blocked the start of negotiations on the pact since 2006 over a Russian ban on imports of Polish meat and other food products.

Dimitrij Rupel, foreign minister of EU president Slovenia, said he believed the EU and Russia would retain good relations despite the dispute over Kosovo.

“Cooperation between the EU and the Russian Federation is so valuable that nothing on the agenda now can ruin this friendship,” Rupel said.

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