Kosovo appeals to US for independence date
PRISTINA, Serbia, July 9 (Reuters) Kosovo appealed to the United States today to set a date for the province's independence from Serbia, saying Russia had blocked its path through the United Nations.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian prime minister, Agim Ceku, said a ''new approach'' was needed. He again hinted at a unilateral declaration of independence after eight years under UN stewardship.
''Because of Russian resistance, the UN Security Council is unable to take a decision on Kosovo's status,'' Ceku said in his weekly address on Kosovo public radio. Ceku recalled comments by US President George W Bush in Albania on June 10, when he said the West would act ''sooner rather than later'' if Serb ally Russia continued to block Kosovo's secession at the United Nations.
''President Bush said that one day we should say 'enough is enough','' Ceku said.
''This enough should have a date. We need a clear calendar, a clear date and a clear way to resolve Kosovo's status.'' Kosovo's 2 million Albanians, 90 per cent of the population, are growing increasingly impatient for statehood, eight years since NATO bombs drove out Serb forces accused of atrocities and the United Nations took control.
But Russia has slammed the brakes on Western efforts to steer its secession through the UN Security Council.
The United States has indicated it would support a unilateral declaration of independence, but the European Union is concerned the fragile unity among its 27 members would crumble without the legal basis of a UN resolution.
Ceku was due to meet in Pristina on Monday with US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried.
Fried is expected to discuss Western plans to restart talks between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians in a bid to overcome Russian opposition to independence.
France has proposed six months of dialogue, and a draft UN resolution is expected to call for at least 150 days, diplomats say. More than a year of talks ended in March in stalemate.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated on Monday in Bishkek that Moscow would only support a solution acceptable to both Serbia and Kosovo.
Serbia rejects independence for land cherished by many Serbs as their spiritual heartland. Almost a million Albanians were expelled during Serbia's 1998-99 war against Albanian rebels.