“I would try to win over “shoulder by shoulder” with Serbia to return the international law to the region, once and for all, primarily when it comes to the Kosovo issue,” Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharachenko told Tanjug news agency.
He added Russia would support “a compromise and creative” solution, the one that Belgrade and Pristina must agree upon and which Russia could defend at the UN Security Council.
In an exclusive interview to Tanjug news agency, the first one for the Serbian media after taking the office, Ambassador Botsan-Kharachenko noted that he sees “the return of the international law to the region,” as his main task as an ambassador in Serbia. He noted the experience and understanding “where and what Serbia’s interests are” within relations with Russia, in the region and Europe, would help him perceive in the best light further development of the relations between the two countries (Serbia and Russia) but also cooperation in resolving the Kosovo issue.
He also said given his participation in international negotiations in Dayton, and so-called negotiations about Kosovo status, his task is to give contribution to the stabilization of the region. This task is based on the state policy and cooperation that was particularly highlighted during the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in January.
“Here, a solution is possible only based on compromise and our Western partners must change their stance. The evidence for that are the latest events in Kosovo and the situation is sometimes on the verge of significant tensions. I am now saying it in a diplomatic manner, but the situation is rather concerning. I say this on my behalf, considering the previous experience,” Ambassador Botsan-Kharachenko warned.
He also believes that an entire international community must pay stronger attention to Kosovo and what happens there, adding “there are doubts about objective assessment of the situation in Kosovo” in the West.
“If there would be one, we would witness pressure exerted on Pristina, and there is no pressure, and if there is no pressure I do not believe the continuation of the dialogue is possible. In this case, Pristina is to be blamed, they ruined the dialogue, and prior to that they have not implemented decisions that are of crucial importance for the Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija, foremost establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo (…),” Ambassador underlined.
Asked if he thinks Belgrade-Pristina dialogue could continue, the Ambassador said there are no preconditions for that since the tariffs are still there, and there is no readiness on the side of Pristina to implement previous decisions.
“On the other hand, we see there are some activities and some EU leading states ask and want to be more active and wish to give contribution in the sense of restoring the dialogue, but allow me to repeat – pressure upon Pristina is needed,” Ambassador said.
He added that during the negotiations in 2006-2007 he has heard some Western states while responding to a question ‘what compromise is possible’ presented their vision – Pristina declares independence with Serbia’s consent. Asked what a compromise is not they responded – Pristina declares independence without Belgrade’s consent.
“This principle still stands, absolutely distorted, outside of any logic and let alone the international law.”
Asked if an agreement is possible at all, Botsan-Kharachenko responded: “Of course, it is possible, why not? If each side seeks the compromise and has the desire to take into consideration interests of the other side, if there is well-intended international mediation and help, balanced and based on the international law – UN SC Resolution 1244”.
He noted that, however, a number of states using the example of Kosovo set some imagined rules that have nothing to do with the international law and warn that if a solution is not reached destabilization of the region would occur.
“Unresolved Kosovo issue burdens Serbia of course, but the region as whole as well. That is why we are here to give a contribution, to help and I believe an internationally-legal solution would be reached. But not that fast.”
Asked if delineation would be a compromise, that everybody and he are talking about, the Ambassador said: “For us the agreement of Belgrade and Pristina is important, because in this case support of the UN Security Council is possible. And on what basis – this is the issue of the negotiations. It is hard to say, because we do not want to impose any solution or determine the course of the negotiations. But, when compromises are sought, creative approach is necessary.”
Asked if a change in the dialogue format, or framework could be possible, Ambassador responded that question is interesting, but at the moment there are no preconditions to restore the dialogue, and when it comes to Russia its stance is principled. If Serbia asks Russia to join a group of states, it may get involved, why not, but with a stance that must be respected – respect of the UN SC Resolution 1244.
Asked if Russia sees Serbia as a last stronghold in the region, viewed from an angle of NATO aspirations, Ambassador responded “that he is not in favor of using the term- stronghold”.
“The term stronghold does not correspond to the Russian principle and the concept of security in Europe. Our vision is based on a notion or principle of common security and unique security area without anyone’s strongholds – neither NATO’s nor Russia’s, and without divisions. That is our aim”.
He noted military neutrality of Serbia gives possibility to Serbia that in cooperation with all that suit it can ensure defensive readiness of the state and the army.
He also commented on the stories that Russia favors ‘frozen-conflict’ in Kosovo because of the status of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and that Russian stance is conditioned with Crimea stance, saying he is aware of such stories, but that lack of decision and compromise regarding Kosovo is in no way in the interests of Russia.
“When it comes to Abkhazia, South Ossetia there are no links whatsoever with Kosovo. Same goes for Crimea, it is a completely different story – Crimea has returned to Russia based on the referendum, and we all very well know there was no referendum in Kosovo at all. The Crimea issue does not exist, as one would put it, Crimea has returned to its birth port. Crimea is integral, unalienable part of the Russian Federation. When we seek resolution of Kosovo issue, we also start from the point that Kosovo is part of Serbia,” Russian Ambassador said.