June 21st, 2007 09:12 EST
Revised Kosovo Resolution Submitted to U.N. Security Council
United Nations -- The United States and two European members of the U.N. Security Council have submitted a revised resolution that would pave the way for Kosovo's independence.
Submitted during a closed council meeting June 20, the new draft would allow for a four-month period for negotiations between officials in Serbia and Kosovo to give the two sides time to reach an agreement before the independence plan drawn up by U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari goes into effect. It asks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "to immediately convoke the parties to continue final status negotiations within the 120-day period" and says that the Ahtisaari plan will go into effect unless the Security Council "expressly decides otherwise after conducting an evaluation."
The council's evaluation of the negotiations would be made "on the basis of a report by the secretary-general or his representatives," the draft says.
The draft also asks that "the parties refrain from making any unilateral declarations regarding final status" during the period of negotiations.
U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said that the 120-day delay "is designed to allow for continuing negotiations, something that several members of the council believed would be useful."
Wolff said that in presenting the new draft, the United Kingdom and France underscored "the importance of the implementation of the Ahtisaari plan and the expectation that this would result in Kosovo's independence."
"There is an expectation among many that the ideal solution would be agreement between the parties. This [delay] allows a little more time to see if that's possible. It may not be possible and the resolution allows for immediate steps after the period of negotiation to implement to Ahtisaari provisions," the U.S. ambassador told journalists after the meeting.
He said that after consultations with all 15 council members, the co-sponsors will decide when to call for a vote.
A 1999 Security Council resolution (Resolution 1244) placed the Serbian province of Kosovo under U.N. administration and set out a political process to determine Kosovo's final status. It gave the council the responsibility of determining a settlement. Following months of exhaustive negotiations with Serbian and Kosovo officials, Ahtisaari concluded that independence was the only option to ensure Kosovo's political and economic stability.
Under Ahtisaari's plan, which was submitted in April, Kosovo would be a multiethnic society with the language, education and cultural aspects of all communities protected and promoted; the Serbian Orthodox Church would be safeguarded. The NATO-led Kosovo force would continue to provide security and an international civilian representative would oversee the settlement. (See related article.)
The United States and many European nations say that open-ended negotiations and further delay in arriving at a long-promised settlement would cause only more instability.
Russia, which has veto power in the council, has called the new draft resolution unacceptable.
United Kingdom Ambassador Karen Pierce urged Russia to work with the co-sponsors on the draft. "We much prefer to stay within the Security Council. There have been 115 resolutions on the Balkans since the former Yugoslavia disintegrated," Pierce said. "It strikes us as right that the last piece, as it were ... should be dealt with by the council."
Pierce said that the co-sponsors expect the negotiation period to be "used wisely and not to press for unrealistic ambitions. We look to [Serbia], in particular, if we do go ahead with a further round of negotiations, to come forward with realistic proposals."
"It is fair to say that one way or another Kosovo independence is going to be inevitable," she said. "It is much better that that is reached through a managed process with proper and adequate guarantees for the Kosovo Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo. We believe that the Ahtisaari provisions provide for that."
A transcript of Wolff’s remarks is available on the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Web site.
For more information on U.S. policies in the region, see Southeast Europe.
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