Russia warns West of using force against Kosovan Serbs

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Moscow, Feb 25 (UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today said if force was used against Kosovan Serbs unwilling to live under the power of Pristina, a new frozen conflict will appear in Europe.

''We are told that a EU mission attempting to win a foothold in Serbian enclaves which Serbs are opposed to is trying to get the KFOR on its side,'' Mr Lavrov said in an interview on Russian Vesti 24 TV channel today.

''The question being discussed in earnest is how to keep the Serbs unwilling to remain under the rule of Pristina in this unilaterally declared state,'' he added.

''Moreover, we are told NATO contingents are trying to use force to close the administrative border between north Kosovo with a predominantly Serbian population and the rest of Serbia,'' he pointed out.

''This will only lead to the appearance of one more frozen conflict and will put far away the prospect of stabilising Europe, primarily stabilising the Balkans,'' he noted.

Mr Lavrov also confirmed Russia's loyalty to the settlement of the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, saying it must be acceptable to both sides to the conflicts.

''Russia consistently and diligently stands by its obligations as a mediator doing its utmost to encourage the sides, including the Abkhaz and Ossetian with whom we have special relations and the enormous number of our citizens living, there to continue the talks,'' he said.

Mr Lavrov said the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia had proposed their conflict settlement plans. ''I do not know what the outcome of the talks may be but I have no doubts that it can be only mutually acceptable. And we will be supporting this very thing,'' he added.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to Serbia today said Russia will continue sticking to its position on the need for the unity of Serbia.

''We proceed from the understanding that Serbia is a single state with its jurisdiction spanning its entire territory and we will stick to this principled stance in the future,'' Interfax news agency quoted Mr Medvedev as saying during his talks with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in Belgrade.

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