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Ahtisaari's plan on Kosovo failed - Russian FM

Ahtisaari's plan on the status of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo has failed, the Russian foreign minister said Thursday.
BELGRADE, April 19 (RIA Novosti) - Ahtisaari's plan on the status of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo has failed, the Russian foreign minister said Thursday.

Sergei Lavrov is currently on an April 18-19 visit to Serbia, Russia's traditional ally, to discuss a plan proposed by Martti Ahtisaari, the UN envoy for Kosovo who is advocating internationally supervised sovereignty for the province.

"Certain efforts by the international community to resolve conflicts, such as a plan on the Cyprus settlement or the Ahtisaari's plan have failed," Lavrov said after talks with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

"In both cases, the failure was caused by attempts to adopt unilateral decisions and to ignore the interests of all concerned sides," he said.

Lavrov earlier said Moscow completely backs Belgrade's position on the need to observe UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Adopted in 1999, the resolution sought to resolve the grave humanitarian situation in Kosovo and to guarantee the safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes.

Kosovo, 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.

Serbia is strongly opposed to independence for the province, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, but the United States and the European Union have expressed support for its sovereignty. However, only four out of 15 member-states at the UN Security Council voted for Ahtisaari's plan during the first round of consultations April 3.

Veto-wielding Russia has also opposed the internationally backed plan, insisting that a decision on Kosovo should satisfy both Kosovar and Serbian authorities and that it must be reached through negotiations.

The UN Security Council backed Russia's initiative April 13 to send a mission to Kosovo and Belgrade before continuing talks on Kosovo's status.

"The UN mission must create the opportunity to see how the decisions of this body [the UN Security Council] are being carried out," Lavrov said on Thursday referring to the implementation of UN Resolution 1244. "We will make sure that the mission sees the real picture of how the Serbian minorities live there [in Kosovo]."

Russia will announce whether it will veto a new UN resolution on Kosovo, based on Ahtisaari's plan, only after the draft document has been introduced to the UN Security Council, the minister said.

The Serbian prime minister supported Lavrov's statements by saying that the UN mission experts must personally witness violations of Serb's rights in Kosovo.

"It is important that [the UN officials] see that there is no freedom to travel and race-hate crimes are common practice [in Kosovo]," Kostunica said.

He said more than 200,000 Serbian refugees, who left Kosovo in 1999, cannot return home.

"It is a shame for those who declare democratic principles," the Serbian prime minister said.

The UN Security Council mission will visit Belgrade on April 25-26 and Pristina on April 27-28, the Serbian Tanjug news agency earlier said, citing UN diplomatic sources.

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