Next round of Belgrade-Pristina talks due Oct. 22 in Vienna

Other News Materials 15 October 2007 14:54 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - The next round of direct negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina on the status of Kosovo will take place October 22 in Vienna, the parties said at the end of the second round of consultations.

The communique says the sides presented their detailed proposals on the future status of Kosovo, reiterating their determination to refrain from any moves that could harm security and stability in the region or negotiations with the mediation of the Contact Group.

After the "direct dialogue" in Brussels, the international mediators conducted separate negotiations with each side to discuss issues common to both parties and which could lead to possible mutual agreements.

The Kosovo-Serbia negotiations are mediated by Russia, the European Union and the United States. In the spring, Russia, a traditional ally of Belgrade and also a UN Security Council permanent member, vetoed a draft resolution by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari, which proposed internationally supervised independence for the predominantly Albanian province.

Serbia and its breakaway province of Kosovo held the first round of their first direct talks in late September with international mediators participating but failed to reach any agreement.

Following closed consultations in the UN Security Council last Wednesday, Russia's UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said he did not consider the December 10 deadline set for Belgrade-Pristina talks to be a final date. On that day, the mediators, known as the Contact Group, are to report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the results of 120-day negotiations.

Churkin said Moscow saw other ways of dealing with the situation after the deadline - by extending the Contact Group's mandate or granting it a new mandate. He reiterated Russia's position that a final resolution must suit both Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, and that talks should not be restricted by any deadlines.

Kosovo, now 90% populated by ethnic Albanians, has been a UN protectorate since NATO's 1999 bombing campaign that ended a conflict between Serb troops and Albanian separatists. Serbia sees Kosovo's status as a broad autonomy, but Kosovo wants full sovereignty.

The U.S. has made it clear that it will recognize Kosovo's independence after the December 10 deadline if no agreement is reached.

Russia, a veto-wielding Security Council member and a staunch ally of Belgrade, has repeatedly said that granting Kosovo sovereignty would violate Serbia's territorial integrity and set a precedent for other breakaway regions, including those of the former Soviet Union.