Kosovo: Hotbed of international terrorism, gangster crime, arms trade, and trafficking

In-depth Report:

Kosovo fails to meet criteria for independence – Russian senator

27/11/2007 18:19 MOSCOW, November 27 (RIA Novosti) – Kosovo falls short of standards for becoming an independent state from the point of view of international law, a member of the Russian upper house said on Tuesday.

Vasily Likhachyov, deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, said in a RIA Novosti video linkup between Moscow and Beijing dedicated to the Kosovo status issue that the predominantly Albanian province is now one of the most problem-ridden areas in Europe.

He said Kosovo has an unemployment rate of 60%, and is a hotbed of international terrorism, gangster crime, arms trade, and trafficking of drugs and prostitutes to European Union states.

Likhachyov said the complete separation of the breakaway territory from Serbia would benefit primarily the United States, which is ready to unilaterally recognize Kosovo’s independence, even though this could have negative repercussions both in Europe and in the world as a whole.

The senator warned that recognizing Kosovo as an independent state would have a knock-on affect in former Soviet republics, some parts of which also have strong separatist movements.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said earlier today that claims by Western countries that Kosovo’s independence is inevitable were disrupting collective efforts to broker an agreement on the province’s status.

A crucial round of negotiations between Serbs and Kosovo Albanian leaders opened on Monday in the Austrian spa town of Baden, as the December 10 deadline set by the UN for a status agreement looms.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate ever since NATO’s bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 ended a bloody conflict between Serb forces and Albanian separatists in the region.

Negotiations on the final status of Kosovo have so far stalled, with Belgrade offering broad autonomy to the province and Pristina insisting on full sovereignty.

The U.S. and some EU states have pushed for Kosovo’s independence, while Russia says that security and humanitarian requirements must be met first and that independence would set a dangerous precedent, including for post-Soviet states.

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