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Russian Envoy Says 'Nothing Impossible' In Kosovo Talks

Troika members Ischinger (left), Bostan-Kharchenko, and Wisner in Belgrade on August 10 (AFP) August 17, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's representative on the "troika" of international mediators for Kosovo said today he believes a negotiated settlement is still possible in Kosovo.

Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, the Russian Foreign Ministry's special representative for Balkan affairs, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that he is approaching talks on Kosovo's future from the perspective that "nothing is impossible."

Talks Ahead

The Russian envoy, along with fellow troika members Frank Wisner of the United States and Wolfgang Ischinger of the European Union, met with Serbian officials in Belgrade on August 10 and with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders in Pristina on August 11.

A new round of talks is scheduled to be held in Vienna on August 30. Kosovo's leaders have said repeatedly that they will settle for nothing short of full independence from Serbia regardless of the outcome of the talks.

Botsan-Kharchenko said, however, that a compromise can still be reached.

"I don't want to enter this with a fatalistic outlook. I am approaching this from the perspective that a compromise can be found, that a negotiated settlement between Belgrade and Pristina [is possible]," Botsan-Kharchenko said. "If you program yourself to have a fatalistic attitude that a certain outcome is inevitable, then participating in formats whose aim is to come up with a compromise solution makes no sense."

Botsan-Kharchenko added that in discussions with the troika, Serbian officials said they are prepared to offer Kosovo broad autonomy and some form of international presence -- provided they stay inside Serbia.

Serbian Position

"Their [Serbia's] proposals are in the framework of expanded or controlled autonomy for Kosovo [within Serbia]," Botsan-Kharchenko said. "They [Serbia] have also suggested new elements that would strengthen Kosovo's self-government and its level of autonomy. There are even some suggestions that would allow the region to have some level of international presence."

The latest round of talks was initiated after -- facing the threat of a Russian veto -- the United States and its European allies withdrew a UN resolution in June that would have given Kosovo internationally supervised independence.

RFE/RL Balkan Report

RFE/RL Balkan Report


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