U.S. pushing for quick Kosovo resolution
20 January 2007 | 16:32 | Source: AP
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government is pushing for a quick resolution on Kosovo's final status following the release of a UN proposal.
The United States is signaling that it will work to prevent Russia from using its veto in the U.N. Security Council to delay imposition of a settlement. Russia insists that any outcome must be acceptable to Serbia.
A special U.N. envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, is expected to recommend some form of independence for Kosovo when he issues a report in coming weeks.
A senior U.S. government official said the White House would like to see the process move quickly to a final settlement and approval by the U.N. Security Council. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried recently told the Voice of America that a consultation period with the Serbs and Kosovars would follow release of the Ahtisaari plan, but he signaled that the U.S. government would not let the negotiations drag on.
"We really can't stay where we are because it's been almost eight years, and the Kosovars and the Serbs both deserve to see this issue resolved so they can get on with their lives and have a future," he said.
U.S. policy long has favored Kosovar independence, although some within the administration of President George W. Bush and in Congress have warned against alienating Serbs and undermining liberal and democratic Serbian politicians.
Pressure has increased on the White House from the new Democratic Congress. Democratic leaders of the committees that deal with foreign policy are strong proponents of independence for the mostly Muslim province.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joseph Biden, is urging the Bush administration to make the final push for independence with muscular diplomacy.
"In the next few months, adroit diplomacy to secure Kosovo's independence could yield a victory for Muslim democracy, a better future for southeast Europe and validation for the judicious use of American power," Biden wrote in an opinion piece published in London's Financial Times on January 2.
Some Congressional aides say that in the event of a Russian Security Council veto, pressure will grow for the United States and allies to recognize Kosovo directly, outside the U.N. framework.
"The Kosovo independence train has left the station," said Antony Blinken, Biden's staff director, in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
Biden's counterpart in the House of Representatives, Democrat Tom Lantos, also conveyed a sense of urgency on the issue by proposing a resolution on January 5, the second day of the new Congress, that backs Kosovar independence and warns that further delay could lead to instability. The measure was co-sponsored by the top Republican member on Lantos' Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Republican Sen. George Voinovich, also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, who is of Serbian and Slovenian descent, has expressed concern in the past about rushing toward independence. But he said it is in Serbia's interest to eventually let the province go. He remains insistent that any settlement protect Kosovo's minority Serb population and have the support of the Serbian government.
"It is absolutely critical that before the U.N. Security Council decision is finalized, there is infrastructure for enacting the plan and protecting the rights of Kosovo's minority populations," Voinovich said.
"This plan cannot be successful without adequate infrastructure, including funding, troops, international police, international prosecutors, and the help and support of the government of Serbia."
Here he comes again.
Victory for muslim democracy in Iraq would validate the judicious use of American power too but for some reason Biden's against it.