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Kosovo Talks End Without Breakthrough


A year of talks on the future of Kosovo has ended without agreement between Serbia's government and Kosovo's independence-seeking ethnic Albanian leadership. The U.N. mediator in the talks said he would present the proposed plan for Kosovo to the U.N. Security Council later this month. From Budapest, Stefan Bos has this VOA report.

U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari said the two sides failed to narrow their differences on the future of Kosovo province, which has been administered by the United Nations since 1999.

Under the U.N.-drafted proposal, the territory would become autonomous with its own flag and the right to join international organizations.

The ethnic Albanian delegation has accepted the plan, although it falls short of demands for full independence from Serbia for the Albanian-majority province.

But Serbs rejected the proposal. Belgrade has made clear that Serbia cannot accept an independent Kosovo because it considers the province the cradle of Serbian culture and religion.

U.N. Special Envoy Ahtisaari expressed his disappointment that, after 14 months of talks, no agreement was reached on the future status of Kosovo. "With all these efforts, I had hoped, and very much preferred, that this process would lead to a negotiated agreement. But it has left me with no doubt that the parties' respective positions on Kosovo's status do not contain any common ground to achieve such an agreement," he said.

The envoy said he would present his draft plan for approval to the U.N. Security Council later this month. Serbia hopes veto-wielding Russia will stick to its long-held view that it will not accept a deal on Kosovo's status, unless both sides agree.

There are Western fears however that if Ahtisaari's proposal is not adopted by the U.N. Security Council, Kosovo's ethnic Albanians will declare independence from Serbia anyway, perhaps as early as this year.