Thursday, August 9, 2007

Talks will not be based on Ahtisaari plan

MOSCOW, WASHINGTON, BELGRADE -- Alexandar Botsan-Harchenko told B92 that Martti Ahtisaari’s Kosovo status plan will not be a basis for renewed talks.

Russia’s envoy in the Contact Group Troika, established to mediate in the upcoming talks on the province’s future, said his country will decisively oppose any deadlines once negotiations start.

Harchenko also said that all participants must work to reach a negotiated settlement.

“Ahtisaari’s plan did not win the support of the Security Council since it is not based on a negotiated outcome and compromise between Belgrade and Priština.”

“I see no point in discussing that plan, it cannot be a basis for the upcoming talks,” the Russian diplomat explained.

Harchenko added he will once again tell other Troika members that Russia opposes any deadlines in the negotiations.

“We decisively oppose deadlines. Our goal is to reach a negotiated settlement, taking into account both sides’ positions, and we consider UN Resolution 1244 valid. This resolution must be taken very seriously,” Harchenko said.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey called on Belgrade and Priština Wednesday to take active part in the new round of talks, adding that his country believed independence was the best solution for Kosovo.

“We believe that, after all, independence is the way forward for Kosovo, at first supervised, as envisaged by Martti Ahtisaari’s plan,” Casey said.

The European Union’s representative Wolfgang Ischinger, Russia’s Alexandar Botsan-Harchenko and American diplomat Frank Wisner will be in Belgrade on Friday.

It was announced earlier today that a meeting between the Contact Group envoys, Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and President Boris Tadić will begin a 3 p.m. the same day.

Belgrade to Washington: Show restraint

The government today called on the United Stated to demonstrate “restraint and impartiality” over the Kosovo status issue.

Education Minister Zoran Lončar told Beta that the U.S. was trying to “resuscitate” UN Kosovo Envoy Martti Ahtisaari plan which suggests supervised independence as the province’s future status.

Lončar, however, said the plan was “definitely discarded”.

“If the Ahtisaari plan were alive, clearly, Ahtisaari himself would still be the mediator in the negotiating process,” he added.

Lončar told the agency Koštunica’s cabinet expected the U.S. representative in the new talks on Kosovo’s future to demonstrate “impartiality and a constructive approach, in a bid to reach a compromise in line with the UN Charter and Serbian constitution”.

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