Russia fears chain reaction
9 February 2007 | 11:59 | Source: AP
SEVILLE — Granting independence to Kosovo could inspire other breakaway regions in Europe and former Soviet Union, Sergei Ivanov warns today.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov spoke before holding planned talks with his NATO counterparts, who have backed a plan drawn up by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari proposing internationally supervised statehood for the separatist Serbian province.
Ivanov issued a strong warning Friday that Kosovo independence could spark ‘chain reaction’ among separatist regions. Russia has long expressed reservations about Kosovo’s separatist aspirations, and Ivanov’s comments underscored differences between Russia and the West. The issue of Kosovo’s status will be discussed next month at the U.N. Security Council.
“If we imagine a situation where Kosovo achieves independence, then other people, people living in regions that are not recognized, will ask us: “are we not as good as them?” Ivanov told reporters.
“This concerns obviously the post-Soviet space, but also regions in Europe,” he said. “This can create a chain reaction … we must be careful not to open Pandora’s box”, Ivanov said.
Ivanov spoke after a meeting with German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, who restated Western support for Ahtisaari’s recommendations and said NATO and Russia should work together to persuade the Serbs and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority to “accept this proposal in the interest of a peaceful and stable development.”
Jung also rejected Serb requests for a delay in talks on the plan. “I would wish that the Security Council can vote on this in March, and vote positively,” he said.
Moscow has often warned that Kosovo’s status will serve as precedent for other nations with similar cases, including several breakaway provinces in the ex-Soviet Union. The Kremlin has hinted that, were Kosovo to gain independence, two pro-Russian rebel regions in Georgia and a breakaway province in Moldova, which enjoy Moscow’s tacit support, could follow suit.
Serbian officials also have warned that an independent Kosovo could also serve as a precedent for independence movements elsewhere, notably in Spain’s Basque Country or Catalonia.