Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Unity of the Contact Group at risk (Koha Ditore)

Two months and a half before the ‘preferred’ deadline for the solution of Kosovo’s status, Koha Ditore reports in its lead story that according to some European officials there are huge differences within the Contact Group, between the US and the Great Britain on the one side, and Russia on the other.

According to these unnamed western diplomats, with the escalation in the relations between Russia and Georgia and with the anticipation of elections in Serbia, the status process in Kosovo can become a ‘collateral victim’.

Russia has some leverage in the Contact Group and so far it has not spoiled the plans of the Western countries in this group. However, it is now clearly showing that it does not agree with what they call ‘imposed solution’ and with ‘artificial deadlines’ for the solution of Kosovo’s status.

According to Koha Ditore Brussels’ diplomats will say that another meeting between Ahtisaari and the Contact group could take place by the end of the month, to retest the unit of the Contact Group.

Ahtisaari said in a conference in Helsinki that Russia is not interested in solving the status while Finland is chairing the EU, not even during Germany’s turn. “Perhaps Russia thinks that Kosovo status should be solved when Croatia chairs the EU, which is not yet a member,” he said according to some participants in the conference, writes Koha Ditore.

What seems enigmatic in this environment, says Koha Ditore, is the tentative of Germany to position itself somewhere ‘in the middle’. “Germany is trying to create possibilities for an interim solution for Kosovo which would be some sort of independence without sovereignty. Germanys also like the idea that Kosovo should not become a UN member and that it should not have an army. They think that full independence of Kosovo should only be reached when Kosovo is mature enough to integrate in the EU, so for an indefinite period of time,” Koha Ditore quotes an unnamed EU official involved in the Contact Group processes.

Koha Ditore writes that according to the assessment of some diplomats, for Germany, good relations with Russia have always been a priority, sometimes more important than relations with the US.

EU sources say that all the efforts are being made to maintain the unity of the Contact Group because the differences between Russia and the Western states within the CG are coming more and more to the surface, says the paper.

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