New Kosovo draft circulated ahead of UN vote

July 19, 2007 - 0:0

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- Western nations late Tuesday circulated their latest draft resolution on Kosovo's future ahead of what could be an imminent vote in the UN Security Council despite opposition from veto-wielding Russia.

The latest text, co-sponsored by Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, was ""put in blue"", meaning readied for a vote. But a Western diplomat cautioned that the text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, did not necessarily mean a vote in the ensuing 24 hours as is usually the rule, saying the goal was ""to test the strength of Russian opposition."" The draft is a slightly amended version of the text rejected by Russia Monday. Moscow has threatened to veto any solution that is not acceptable to its ally Serbia, which adamantly opposes independence for the UN-run, Albanian-majority province it views as the cradle of its culture and religion. The latest draft welcomes the willingness of members of the Contact Group on Kosovo -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States -- and the European Union (EU) to facilitate new talks between Belgrade and Kosovo's Albanian separatists during a 120-day period ""to determine whether common ground can be found"". It also affirms the Council's ""readiness to review the situation further in light of those negotiations"". The text also welcomes ""the willingness of interested parties to appoint an International Civilian Representative (ICR), who shall be the same person as the Special Representative of the European Union"". It states that the ICR shall be empowered to ""advance democratic, effective and inclusive governance and institutions, the rights of communities and their members, decentralization of local government, justice and the rule of law, protection of religious and cultural heritage, protection of property rights and the general welfare of the people"". The draft recognizes the ""specific circumstances that make Kosovo a case that is sui generis (unique) resulting from the disintegration of the former well as the massive violence and repression that took place in Kosovo in the period up to and including 1999, the extended period of (UN) administration under (Security Council) resolution 1244"". It calls on UN chief Ban Ki-moon ""to appoint promptly a separate special envoy to provide a report to the Security Council on the situation concerning refugees and internally displaced persons in the region, and on issues related to missing persons"". Monday, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin warned that ""the chances are zero"" that the Western draft would be passed because ""almost the entire text ... is permeated with the concept of independence of Kosovo"". The draft would implement key provisions of the UN envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari’s plan and would essentially turn over administration of Kosovo to the European Union