Troika-mediated talks on Kosovo start in Brussels
( RIA Novosti ) - Another round of talks on the status of Serbia's secessionist republic of Kosovo, mediated by the European Union, the United States and Russia, has begun in Brussels, an EU spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The EU representative said the troika representatives urged Belgrade and Pristina to exhibit flexibility and give a positive and constructive response to the troika's initiatives before the December 10 deadline, set by the UN for resolving the status of the region.
By the December deadline, the Contact Group negotiating a solution on Kosovo's status - Russia, the U.S. and the four largest European Union members - must submit a report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Previous negotiations have produced no results with Belgrade offering wide autonomy to Kosovo, while Pristina insists on full sovereignty.
Kosovo held parliamentary elections November 17, which, according to unofficial results, were won by former rebel leader Hashim Thaci, who vowed to declare independence for Kosovo. The province's ethnic Serb population (around 6%) boycotted the election.
Belgrade and its ally Russia have spoken out against strict timeframes in the long-running dispute, but Kosovo Albanian leaders have said they will declare independence unilaterally if no deal is reached by December 10.
When asked for a comment on the statement, Luis Amado, the foreign minister of Portugal, currently presiding over the EU, said he did not want to dramatize the situation but if Kosovo declared independence it would require a "straightforward response" from the EU.
The UN Security Council has so far failed to agree an action plan if no agreement is reached between Belgrade and Pristina by the set timeframe.
The U.S. and some EU states have pushed for Kosovo's independence, while Russia has strongly opposed this, saying that security and humanitarian requirements should be met first and that independence would set a dangerous precedent, including for post-Soviet states.
Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since NATO's long bombing campaign against the former Yugoslavia ended a bloody war between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in 1999.