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Russia objects to a criminal state in the heart of Europe
MOSCOW. (Mikhail Margelov for RIA Novosti)

Russia will insist that without the consent of all interested parties any decision on Kosovo will not be legal. This is the only correct position. Any deviation from it will produce unilateral action that is impermissible in world affairs.
Now the UN Security Council is considering Marti Ahtisaari’s proposal that in effect provides for Kosovo’s independence. There are apprehensions that the Kosovo Albanians may provoke turmoil if the proposal fails to go through. It is possible that the West will try to lay the blame on Russia that is opposed to adopting the proposal and turning it into a Security Council resolution. At the same time, the advocates of the proposal are well aware of the dire consequences that their attempt to rush Kosovo’s “independence under international control” may have. But the West has to do something about the Balkan crisis because the methods of resolving it when the situation first arose were no different from the Iraqi campaign.
The current situation in the Balkans is merely a truce in a bloody strife that centers on Kosovo. The West knows that it was the Liberation Army of Kosovo that started the war by compelling the Yugoslav armed forces to reciprocate. Together with criminal clans this army is still influential in Kosovo. It makes no sense for Moscow to refute Western allegations. The forces that have perpetrated violence in Kosovo will remain, and Russia’s potential veto on a Security Council resolution will not change this.
For eight years, billions upon billions of dollars have been pumped into this territory but the Balkan issue is still outstanding. It is abundantly clear that making Kosovo independent means establishing a criminal state in the heart of Europe. The European Council (EU) is aware of the fatal consequences but believes that Kosovo’s reintegration into Serbia and its current vague status are equally bad options. In any event the suggested new status will not change the criminal situation in Kosovo, but Europe seems to have reconciled itself to this.
Nonetheless, we believe that the interested parties should continue the talks. The Security Council should not make any decision before the talks are over, or it will be too late to correct mistakes.
Russia believes that it is at least premature to grant any form of independence to a territory where organized crime may have links with the political elite. The rights that the elite may gain as a result of “independence under international control” will prevent the controllers from fighting criminals. Moreover, and the Russian Foreign Ministry put it in its foreign affairs review, “Kosovo’s eventual independence will create a precedent.”
No doubt, the situation is very complicated. On March 27, Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin made a proposal that may become a major step towards consensus. He suggested that the UN should send its experts to Belgrade and Pristina to verify compliance with the Security Council’s resolution 1244, and to continue the dialogue with the Serbs and Albanians. It would be premature to take any new steps before this resolution is carried out.

Mikhail Margelov is the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on International Affairs and leader of the European Democrats in PACE.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti. -0-