Source Pravda.Ru

Putin and Kostunica to discuss Kosovo

Kosovo will be high on the agenda of talks between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, says a source in the Kremlin. The meeting is set for June 3 in Sochi, where the two leaders will discuss the current state and the outlook of bilateral cooperation and exchange opinions on the situation in the state community of Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo, and regional and European issues.

Kosovo remains the weakest link in the context of regional security, thinks Moscow. Russia has denounced the recent outbreak of violence in the province that resulted in anti-Serb cleansing campaigns.

The Kremlin source recalled that Moscow took a number of political steps in this connection and promptly provided (and continues to provide) humanitarian aid to refugee Serbs. Its Emergencies Ministry has established two tent camps for 1,000 beds each. Apart from foods and medicines, Russia has dispatched portable power generating units and equipment for field kitchens to Serbia.

"In May-June this year, we will dispatch 102 module houses to Kosovo," said the source. He added that the first batch of the houses had arrived in Serbia and Montenegro; 500 Serb children from Kosovo will come for holidays to Russia in June.

"The current task is to overcome the consequences of the extremist actions," said the Kremlin source. Moscow believes that international forces in Kosovo should maximally take into account the April 30, 2004 statement by the chairman of the UN Security Council, which includes the list of priority steps to be taken to stabilise the situation in the province.

According to the Kremlin, "The international community must act resolutely to normalise the situation and ensure strict and full compliance with Security Council Resolution 1244."

As Kostunica told RIA before his first visit to Russia in the capacity of the head of the Serbian government, he plans to inform the Russian leadership about the Serbian government's plan of solving the problem of Kosovo and Metohija.

Russia, being a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is playing a major role in the Kosovo settlement, thinks Kostunica. In his words, a clear-cut and principled stand of Russia on the inviolability of borders in the region "will greatly facilitate the preservation of stability and peace in the region and promote patient dialogue as a method of solving the problem."

The premier believes that the solution of the Kosovo problem should be based above all on Security Council Resolution 1244 as a comprehensive and binding law that stipulates broad autonomy for Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia. Belgrade is convinced that such broad autonomy should also entail broad autonomy for Kosovo Serbs without changing the status of Kosovo, said Kostunica.

He pointed out that Russia supports the striving for creating a stable state association of Serbia and Montenegro, which meets the interests of the Balkan region. The development and strengthening of economic ties and cultural cooperation will feature prominently at the talks with the Russian president, said Vojislav Kostunica.

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