Kosovo president backs Russia plan to send observers to province

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The president of Kosovo has supported Russia's proposal that representatives of an international contact group be sent to the province, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Wednesday.
BELGRADE, March 28 (RIA Novosti) - The president of Kosovo has supported Russia's proposal that representatives of an international contact group be sent to the province, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Wednesday.

"In the course of a recent visit to the UN, I invited countries concerned about the Kosovo issue to send their representatives and study the situation on the ground," Fatmir Sejdiu said.

He said Russia has played a substantial role in discussing the Ahtisaari plan.

Russia said Tuesday it will call for an inquiry into the implementation of all previous UN resolutions on Kosovo if the UN Security Council approves a UN special envoy's plan on the status of Kosovo.

Marti Ahtisaari, a special UN envoy for talks on Kosovo, has proposed that the province be granted internationally supervised sovereignty, but Serbian authorities have strongly opposed the plan as threatening Serbia's national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Monday, Ahtisaari returned his proposals on the future status of the breakaway Serbian province to the UN Security Council following fruitless top-level talks in Vienna between Pristina, Belgrade and the European Union, which said later in a statement that it fully backed Ahtisaari's plan.

As a veto-wielding member in the 15-nation UN Security Council and a traditional ally of Serbia, Russia has insisted that a decision on Kosovo should satisfy both Kosovar and Serbian authorities, and that it must be reached through negotiations.

Serbia's predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo province, which has a population of two million, has been a UN protectorate since NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a war between Serb forces and Albanian separatists in 1999.

The Serbian parliament unanimously approved a resolution February 14 rejecting some provisions of the plan.

Unlike Russia, NATO has made it clear that it favors independence for Kosovo, but a final decision will be up to the UN Security Council.

In its foreign policy review, published Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the lack of an alternative to the proposed independence for Kosovo could strain the international community's efforts to resolve the issue as a whole.

Russia has been opposed to the internationally backed plan to grant sovereignty to Kosovo, also arguing that it would set a precedent for the breakaway regions in the former Soviet Union it is believed to support - Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Moldova's Transdnestr.

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