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To Succeed, Kosovo 'Supervised Independence' Plan Needs UN Approval By Fall

(Washington, DC--May 3, 2007) In order to avoid a possible loss of support and unilateral moves by the majority Albanian population in Kosovo, the UN Security Council needs to adopt a resolution supporting the plan put forth by special UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari for "supervised independence" by this fall, according to International Crisis Group Europe Program Director Sabine Freizer. Freizer spoke during a recent briefing at RFE/RL's Washington office.

Freizer said Ahtisaari would formally present his plan--consisting of a short "report" of recommendations and more comprehensive "proposal" setting out the principles and programs needed to achieve "supervised independence"--to the UN Security Council on April 3. Security Council members debated the plan among themselves prior to its formal submittal, Freizer said, and it was discussed by the six-nation Contact Group during a meeting in London on March 28.

While Freizer predicted this discussion would continue through April, she noted that Russia was not the only country to express its "hesitancy." UN Security Council members China, Indonesia and South Africa, among others, have also expressed concerns about the plan, which they fear could be a precedent-setting imposition of a solution by the international community, before negotiations have been allowed to run their full course. Some countries are also concerned that adoption of the plan would run counter to the principle of "standards before status"--that Kosovo will not have achieved all of the goals set by the UN for democratic development and the protection of minorities before the final status of Kosovo was addressed. Freizer said her organization does not consider these arguments to be "convincing," however.

Freizer stated that the "best case" scenario for UN Security Council action on the Ahtisaari plan would be the adoption of a resolution that would state that it supersedes 1999's UN Security Council resolution 1244 and gives the European Union a mandate to implement the provisions of the plan without necessarily including an explicit mention of the issue of final status. Freizer noted the potential does exist that a permanent member may veto such a resolution, or that it would fail as a result of abstentions by seven or more Security Council members. In either case, Kosovo would be plunged into "dangerous waters," Freizer said, with the real potential for unilateral declarations of independence by both Kosovo's Albanian and Serbian populations; new territorial demands; as well as a dramatic loss of authority by current government leaders and international organizations active in Kosovo.

Photos from the briefing

Archived audio of this briefing can be heard in RealAudio and Windows Media formats.