Source AP ©

Russian FM Lavrov: EU could replace UN

By Alexandra Steblinina. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that if Serbia agrees the EU could replace the U.N. in Kosovo.

Sergey Lavrov said on Russia's Vesti 24 television “If the EU wants to replace the U.N. it's not impossible, but to do that, two conditions must be fulfilled: it's necessary to pass a U.N. Security Council Resolution ... and have Belgrade's agreement for that.”

The European Union agreed a week ago to send an 1,800-strong police and security mission to Kosovo to replace the current United Nations administrative mission in the province, which has been run by the U.N. and NATO since 1999.

Kosovo is the subject of a long-running political and territorial dispute between the Serbian (and previously, the Yugoslav) government and Kosovo's largely ethnic-Albanian population. International negotiations began in 2006 to determine the final status of Kosovo, as envisaged under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 which ended the Kosovo conflict of 1999.

Whilst Serbia's continued sovereignty over Kosovo was recognised by the international community at that time, a majority of the province's population would prefer independence.

After many weeks of discussions at the UN, the United States, United Kingdom and other European members of the Security Council formally 'discarded' a draft resolution backing Ahtisaari's proposal on 20 July 2007, having failed to secure Russian backing, and instead proposed a new period of talks.

Kosovo Albanian leaders have reacted by proposing unilateral independence for 28 November 2007, though some argue that the UN would be required to overrule any such action. Violence and regional instability are feared if status remains undetermined much longer.

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