07MOSCOW305, KOSOVO: RUSSIA TO BREAK WITH CONTACT GROUP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW305 2007-01-25 12:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8045
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #0305/01 0251230
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251230Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6758
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA PRIORITY 0149

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000305 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/24/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM UNMIK SR YI RS
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: RUSSIA TO BREAK WITH CONTACT GROUP 
 
REF: 06 MOSCOW 12819 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: Reasons: 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Welcoming a proposed visit by Special 
Envoy Wisner, the GOR's Special Envoy on Kosovo 
Botsan-Karchenko warned that Russia would break the Contact 
Group consensus on the Ahtisaari timeline at the January 26 
Vienna meeting.  The GOR will reject an "artificial" 
timeline, propose postponing negotiations until after the 
formation of a Serbian government, and insist on a solution 
acceptable to both Pristina and Belgrade.  If pushed to an 
early UNSC vote, Karchenko warned of a possible GOR veto.  He 
urged the West to force Serbia's hand on Euro-Atlantic 
integration, and encouraged the Serbian leadership to not 
reject the Ahtisaari report out of hand.  He recommended 
postponement of the Group of Regionals meeting, in the face 
of Contact Group disunity.  Lavrov's February 1-2 Washington 
visit and Wisner's proposed Moscow consultations are 
important opportunities to highlight the costs of Russia's 
isolation and work to back the Russians off from their 
threats of UNSC vetoes.  End Summary 
 
Kosovo Timeline: Russia will beg to differ 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (C)  In a January 24 meeting, GOR MFA Special Envoy on 
Kosovo Botsan-Karchenko welcomed a proposed visit by Special 
Envoy Wisner to Moscow, in the aftermath of what he expected 
would be a difficult Contact Group meeting in Vienna, since 
Russia would break with the consensus on adhering to a strict 
timeline for the implementation of Ahtisaari's 
recommendations.  During January 15 consultations, EU Kosovo 
Envoy Stefan Lene had reinforced to the GOR that while 
certain changes could be negotiated in the minority rights 
section of the report, the EU would not agree to modifying 
the general principles -- elements of which, Karchenko 
stressed, continued to imply that Kosovo independence was the 
objective.  This approach was unacceptable to the GOR. 
 
3.  (C)  The GOR will argue that the process needs to be 
slowed down in order to facilitate an acceptable solution to 
both Belgrade and Pristina  Specifically: 
 
-- While Ahtisaari had been forthcoming in building in 
another negotiating opportunity, it was unrealistic to think 
that the parties could finish their deliberations in February; 
 
-- The GOR's "strong preference" was to await the formation 
of the new Serbian government, which had a "legal right" to 
defer responding to the Ahtisaari report until its leadership 
was confirmed; 
 
-- Russia will "insist" on a postponement of the negotiation 
for several weeks in order to demonstrate respect for this 
process.  Only after the formation of the government should 
the Contact Group assess the behavior of Belgrade. 
 
-- As a rule, the GOR did not accept an "artificial" time 
frame whether a matter of weeks or years.  Karchenko 
reiterated Putin's insistence on a negotiated solution, which 
the President reinforced during his January 21 meeting with 
Chancellor Merkel. 
 
-- In an aside, Karchenko suggested that the GOR also needed 
time to prepare for Kosovo independence.  Pointing to the 
breakthrough visit by Kosovo Prime Minister Ceku in late 
November-early December 2006, Karchenko said the GOR made a 
significant effort with the Russian media to ensure that the 
visit was a success, but still had much to do "to open the 
path for better relations" with Kosovo.  Karchenko continued 
to maintain that domestic pressure was a factor in GOR 
decision making. 
 
And may veto 
------------ 
 
4.  (C)  While stopping short of stating that a GOR decision 
was made, Karchenko signaled strongly that Russia was 
prepared to use its veto at the UNSC.  If the Ahtisaari 
package moved forward in March, he commented carefully, 
Russia "would have no chance to achieve an endorsement in the 
Security Council;" the early delivery of the report, he 
reiterated, would "make us impose the veto." 
 
Serbia must choose 
------------------ 
 
5.  (C)  Karchenko argued that Serbia had two contradictory 
ambitions: one was to integrate into Euro-Atlantic 
 
MOSCOW 00000305  002 OF 002 
 
 
institutions, the other to retain Kosovo.  Belgrade needed to 
face up to this contradiction -- a process that the West was 
best able to force.  Russia's interest was in having Kosovo 
resolved within the "framework of international law" and 
would maintain pressure on the Serbs to constructively 
engage.  Regardless of U.S. arguments, the GOR believed 
Kosovo would serve as a precedent, and it was not a precedent 
that the Russian government sought (with respect to the 
frozen conflicts).  If Serbia was willing "to pay the 
admission price of Kosovo" for European integration, Russia 
would have no objecti
on.  Karchenko quoted Putin's recent 
comment to Kostunica that "Russia is not prepared to be more 
Serbian than Serbia." 
 
Group of Regionals: Postponement? 
--------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C)  Karchenko flagged an immediate concern stemming from 
the expected rupture in Contact Group consensus: whether to 
convene the Group of Regionals, as requested by Croatia. 
Technically, the proposed February 6-8 time frame may not 
work for Karchenko; substantively, Russia would be compelled 
to express its differences, undermining a common approach. 
In any event, Karchenko argued that a meeting of the Group of 
Regionals should come after Belgrade and Pristina have 
formally responded and suggested that the Croats be asked to 
postpone the session.  When pushed as to whether Russia 
benefited from its isolation, Karchenko noted that many of 
the regionals tailor their reactions to the party inquiring, 
and questioned the degree of consensus that actually exists 
over Kosovo independence. 
 
Russia urges Serbia to Think before Responding 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
7.  (C)  Serbian Charge Yelitsa Kuryak told us that Karchenko 
urged the Serbian leadership to not reject the Ahtisaari 
proposal out of hand, to recognize its many positive features 
-- including decentralization, Serbian Kosovar rights, and 
protection of church property -- and to propose additional 
negotiations on those elements of the plan unacceptable to 
Serbia.  Kuryak, noting that FM Lavrov had repeated Putin's 
comment to Kostunica at a luncheon with the Slavic 
ambassadors, argued that the Russian leadership was trying to 
play the issue both ways: courting Russian public opinion and 
avoiding a precedent that it was afraid of, while making it 
more difficult for the Serbian leadership to define a future 
without Kosovo.  In her view, the GOR benefited most by a 
continued stalemate, represented by inconclusive 
negotiations.  No fan of the GOR or her incoming ambassador 
(by her account, a conservative Kosovar Serb), Kuryak 
adamantly believes that Russian public opinion is muted on 
Kosovo, although the Duma and Russian media continue to turn 
to Milosevic's relatives-in-exile in Russia for analysis of 
current political developments in Serbia. 
 
And tells the Slovaks to expect delays 
-------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Slovak Charge d'Affaires Juraj Priputen told us 
January 24 that the MFA informed the Slovaks, who take up the 
Presidency of the UN Security Council in February, that they 
will adhere to the "Standards before Status" formulation as 
one argument for delaying a resolution of Kosovo's status. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
9.  (C)  Lavrov's February 1-2 consultations in Washington 
and Wisner's proposed early February visit to Moscow provide 
opportunities to engage bilaterally with the GOR before 
Russia irrevocably breaks with the Contact Group consensus. 
Demonstrating Russia's isolation on this issue, the EU's 
solidarity, and the American priority attached to a 
settlement will be important tools in shaping the Russian 
strategy at the UN. 
BURNS

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