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Moscow warns against unilateral independence for Kosovo

RIA Novosti

05/01/2008 15:08 MOSCOW, January 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry has reiterated its warning against the declaration of unilateral independence for Kosovo as the UN Security Council is preparing to discuss the issue.

The Security Council will discuss a report by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on January 16.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko said the proclamation of the province's unilateral independence, without a relevant UN decision, would be unlawful.

"We are convinced that a negotiated settlement of the Kosovo problem is still possible," he said.

A report of the Secretary-General on the UNMIK said that "while the Unity Team continued to attend the Troika-led talks, its representatives repeatedly stated that any further extension of talks would be unacceptable."

"Public pressure on the new Government and Assembly to act swiftly to declare independence following the end of the period of engagement is high," it said.

Yakovenko said previously that the main outcome of the UN Security Council's work on Kosovo in 2007 was to prevent a unilateral decision on Kosovo's independence, adding that the Kosovo problem could only be resolved through negotiations.

The UN Security Council failed last year to bridge divisions over the future of Kosovo. Most Western countries are seeking independence for the volatile area, which has been a UN protectorate since NATO bombings of the former Yugoslavia ended a war between Albanians and Serb forces in 1999.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier Russia would use its veto power at the UN Security Council if a decision on Kosovo's unilateral independence was made.

Some other Security Council members, including Cyprus and Greece, have also voiced opposition to a unilateral declaration of sovereignty by Kosovo, fearing this could set a precedent for separatist regions on their territories.

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