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Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

U.N. mediator calls for Kosovo independence

March 21, 2007

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— A senior U.N. mediator has proposed that U.N.-administered Kosovo be granted independence, setting the stage for a diplomatic showdown between Russia and the West over the fate of Serbia's troubled ethnic Albanian province.

Martti Ahtisaari, former Finnish president and chief U.N. negotiator on Kosovo, concluded that U.N.-sponsored negotiations between Kosovo's and Serbia's leaders will never produce a settlement, and that Kosovo cannot continue under U.N. or Serbian rule. He called for a phased transition to independence, initially supervised by a European Union bureaucrat and protected by NATO forces.

"The time has come to resolve Kosovo's status," Ahtisaari wrote in a confidential letter last week to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that will be presented to the Security Council on Monday. "Independence is the only option for a politically stable and economically viable Kosovo."

Kosovo has been governed by a U.N. administrator since 1999, when U.S. and European forces drove out more than 40,000 Yugoslav troops after a bloody military operation that forced more than 600,00 ethnic Albanians into exile.

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