Russia is worried by the aggravation of the conflict in Kosovo for political, historical, ethnic, religious and other reasons. An element of the explosive Balkan mix, the Kosovo conflict can and must be solved peacefully, with the involvement of all parties. The OSCE can use this peaceful solution as an example of its effectiveness, because now the organisation's authority as a political force capable of maintaining the balance of forces on the continent has been put in question.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has resolutely called for international efforts to be stepped up to prevent the further deterioration of the situation provoked by ethnic unrest and the Albanian slaughter of Serbs. As of now, more than 30 Serbs have been killed and more than 500 wounded and hundreds of Serb homes and dozens of Orthodox churches have been burned to the ground.
Duma deputy Dmitry Rogozin thinks the Russian parliament should draft an appeal to the government encouraging it to take a prompt decision on evacuating ethnic Serbs to Russia and granting them political asylum.
However, chairman of the Duma international affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev rejected the idea as absurd. In his opinion, the evacuation of tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs to Russia "without their request would amount to deportation."
He told journalists on Friday that the global community must firmly intervene in the developments in the Balkans to elaborate realistic ways of "stopping the latent civil war in Kosovo." The OSCE and the Council of Europe should be involved in the settlement of the Kosovo problem in an effort to prevent it dragging on, even though Kosachev believes that the conflict was the result of many previous initiatives of international organisations.
Kosachev believes that the current aggravation of the situation in Kosovo was provoked by failure to fulfil all of the measures approved by the UN Security Council for normalising the situation in the region. No solution has been found to this complicated tangle of ethnic problems in Kosovo in the past five years. The conflict has continued to smoulder despite the presence of KFOR and the UN mission there, said the deputy.
The committee chairman believes that is no coincidence that the conflict between Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians has flared up at a time when Islamic militants have stepped up their activity in Europe. In his opinion, the connection between these two events has to be studied carefully.
He pointed out that the so-called Kosovo standards, approved by the UN Security Council, had not been applied. They included the safe return of refugees, the creation of a multiethnic Kosovo protection corps and Kosovo police, dialogue with Belgrade, and other provisions.
Russia's NATO partners, who are trying to halt the escalation of the conflict, admit that the build-up of police forces in Kosovo will not resolve the problem. The search for a solution to the crisis should be waged by all the concerned parties under the aegis of international organisations, thinks Kosachev.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed its deep concern over the situation in Kosovo. According to statement from the ministry's official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko, which has been released to RIA Novosti, "Russia firmly censures the developments there and demands that those who provoked unrest be found and brought to justice."
The ministry is calling on the conflicting sides, and above all the Albanian majority in the province, to stop using force at once. In its opinion, "the UN Mission in Kosovo and the international military presence should take emergency measures to restore law and order and ensure the appropriate level of security for all the ethnic communities in the province."
Yakovenko also expressed the fear that the unrest in Kosovo could explode the situation in the region as a whole. "We call on the instigators of the unrest to stop immediately," Yakovenko told the Rossia TV channel.
As for the UN's desire to build a polyethnic, democratic and religiously tolerant society in Kosovo, Russian analysts tend to think that it will remain on paper, as proved by the demographic situation in the province. There are over two million Albanians and only about 70,000 Serbs in the province now, because hundreds of thousands of Serbs have been forced to leave and many are following suit.
In other words, Albanians may eventually create a monoethnic state in Kosovo. Deputies from the three leading Albanian parties in the Kosovo parliament, where Albanians are in the overwhelming majority, have stated that the only way to normalise the situation in the province is to make it independent. This opinion was expressed by heads of the parliamentary factions of the Democratic Union of Kosovo and the Democratic Party and by the chairman of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo.
The few Serb deputies boycotted the session.