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Kosovo: 'We're Looking At An Independent Kosovo'

<div class="caption"><div class="watermark"> <a href="http://gdb.rferl.org/F1437B46-FD4E-4BD8-8D22-33663A401AFE_mw800_mh600.jpg" rel="ibox" title="Carne Ross (Courtesy Photo)"> <img alt="Carne Ross (Courtesy Photo)" src="http://gdb.rferl.org/F1437B46-FD4E-4BD8-8D22-33663A401AFE_w203.jpg" class="photo" border="0"></a></div><p>Carne Ross (Courtesy Photo)</p></div>WASHINGTON, March 15, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Recent reports indicate that the final draft of the UN's proposal for the final status of Kosovo calls explicitly for full independence. RFE/RL correspondent Heather Maher spoke to Carne Ross, the director of the nonprofit diplomatic advisory group Independent Diplomat, which is advising the Kosovo government.


RFE/RL: What do we know about UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari's final proposal for Kosovo's status?


Carne Ross: We know the comprehensive proposals that Ahtisaari is making because those have already been shared with the parties and are public. We don't know the precise terms of what the secretary-general will say to the Security Council when he transmits Ahtisaari's proposals to the Security Council. And what we understand is that the covering letter will explicitly recommend that Kosovo be made independent, and that that is clear. But this is what we understand -- the document is not yet public, so we don't know this for sure.

MORE: In February, RFE/RL discussed Kosovo with Albanian Parliament speaker Josefina Topalli

RFE/RL: Can you shed any light on how Ahtisaari operates during these transitional periods that might explain why we're only learning the bottom line of his proposal now?


Ross: Well, it's a very delicate process and he has handled it extremely carefully, cautiously, and judiciously. He has deliberately avoided using the word "independence" in his initial recommendations in order to avoid causing upset in Serbia and also with its allies in the Security Council. But perhaps he's judged on this occasion that he needs to be more explicit about it. But this has been a very delicate, step-by-step process, and he has handled this in a very experienced and statesmanlike manner.


RFE/RL: The last round of negotiations ended March 10 without agreement between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians. What were the two sides discussing in Vienna?


Ross: The two sides were discussing a package that is a public document, which is Ahtisaari's recommendations, which will go to the Security Council, we understand, in the next few weeks. And that document is pretty clear that we're looking at an independent Kosovo. There has, for a long time, been considerable international consensus that what we are moving toward is a Kosovo independent, but with some restrictions on its sovereignty, including, for instance, a continued international presence in Kosovo.


RFE/RL: Where does Ahtisaari's proposal go now?


Ross: The next steps are that the proposal will be delivered to the Security Council by the secretary-general, on behalf of his special envoy, Ahtisaari, and the Security Council will then debate those proposals and hopefully come to a decision on them fairly rapidly. And I hope that they will endorse the recommendations in full without too much delay or debate, and thus at last Kosovo's status can at last be resolved.

The Kremlin Looks At Kosovo...And Beyond
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) greets Serbian President Boris Tadic in the Kremlin in November 2005 (TASS)

WILL THE KREMLIN BACK INDEPENDENCE? As the drive for independence grows in the Serbian province of Kosovo, the international community is speculating on how Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, will act. On September 22, Nicholas Whyte, director of the International Crisis Group's Europe Program, gave a briefing on the subject at RFE/RL's Washington, D.C., office. He speculated on what the Kremlin's "price" might be for agreeing to Kosovo's separation from Serbia.


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