NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- It appears increasingly likely that Kosovo will be allowed to formally break away from Serbia and become an independent nation, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The province has been under United Nations control for seven years, but now members of the U.N. Security Council appear to be leaning toward permitting Kosovo to go its own way, the newspaper reported.
The Council is expected to vote on Kosovo's fate by the end of the year, The Times said, unless the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, who have been negotiating unsuccessfully for months, reach a resolution.
It said representatives of the six nations working on a plan for Kosovo's future - Britain, France, Italy, the U.S., Germany and Russia - say they will try to draft a resolution for the Security Council that will be so specific to the province that it will avoid setting a precedent for other separatists.
The fear among some of the world's most powerful countries is that allowing Kosovo to split away from Serbia will encourage separatist movements elsewhere to intensify their often bloody struggles and give hope to nascent independence groups that have not yet begun to fight.
Diplomats who represent the U.S. and the U.K. in the talks say they believe the only solution Kosovo's ethnic Albanians will accept is independence, but the diplomats insist that such a new state must provide guarantees for the minority Serbs, The Times said. Other Western governments also want to find a speedy solution because they are growing weary of financing the peacekeeping troops and the international officials who now administer the province.
But Serbian leaders, wounded by Montenegro's recent break from Serbia and bitterly opposed to yet another split, say Kosovo independence could encourage the breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina, another former Yugoslav republic.