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UN Report Recommends 'Supervised Independence' For Kosovo

Ban (right) says he supports Ahtisaari's (right) proposal (file photo) (official site) March 26, 2007 -- A special UN envoy has recommended independence for Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo, supervised by the international community.

In a report to the UN Security Council, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari said that independence is "the only viable option" for a politically stable and economically viable Kosovo, which is 90 percent ethnic Albanian.

Ahtisaari's plan offers conditional independence for Kosovo, with a constitution, a flag, and an anthem. The international community would monitor the province, largely to protect the minority ethnic Serbian population.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he fully supports the recommendation.

The United States also said today it backs the proposal. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said a Security Council resolution confirming the province's future status could be adopted in April or May.

But Serbia today "strongly disagreed" with the U.S. support for the proposal.

Serbia rejects independence for Kosovo. The plan also has raised objections from Russia, which wields veto power on the Security Council.

Russian Objections

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow would oppose the plan if Serbian interests are ignored.

In particular, Russian officials say Ahtisaari's plan does not go far enough in protecting the province's Serbian minority.

And some Russian observers have said the United Nations has not applied the same standards to Kosovo that it has to the frozen conflicts of Abkhazia, Transdneister, and South Ossetia.

But despite Russia's strong words, many analysts believe it is unlikely Moscow will use its veto on the Security Council.

RFE/RL Balkans analyst Patrick Moore says the major Western states will not allow Russia to block the proposal.

"I think that they [Russia] will bargain and cajole, but I also think that they realize that if they do cast a veto, the minute that they do so, they have lost their political capital in this particular affair," Moore says.

With the European Union and the United States backing the proposal, Russia has received criticism in the West for its stance on Kosovo. The EU has urged Russia not to stand in the way of the resolution and to exercise "responsible multilaterism."

Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)

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