MOSCOW, December 22. /TASS/. Serbia may rely on Russia in what concerns the defense of its legal interests in Kosovo and Metohija, the two countries will continue coordinating positions on this matter, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said in an article published in the International Affairs magazine on Wednesday.
"People in Serbia know that they always can rely on Russia. Regardless of the serious challenges to our country in the context of the confrontation with NATO, which has been imposed on us, we continue to take part in settling current international crises, including in Kosovo," the article reads.
"We will continue close coordination with Belgrade in defensing Serbia’s legal rights concerning Kosovo and Metohija," the ambassador pledged.
According to the diplomat, Russia’s key instrument on this matter is its serious possibilities as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. "Naturally, with the understanding that initiative will always come from Belgrade," he noted. "We share our Chinese partners’ position on this matter - Beijing also insists on the strict observance of the norms of international law and keeping thee Kosovo topic on the UN Security Council agenda."
Botsan-Kharchenko recalled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words that Russia’s position on the Kosovo problem is unchanged. "We are calling for a lasting mutually acceptable solution between Belgrade and Pristina on the basis of international law and United Nations Security Council resolution 1244," he went on to say. "Such a solution should meet the interests of Belgrade and the Serbian people and be approved by the UN Security Council."
The ambassador stressed that Russia takes Serbia’s concerns and problems close to heart, like its own, as it is not yielding to the sanction fever and refused to join the Western restrictions against Russia. "The West is using the unrest in Kosovo as a tool to exert pressure of President [Aleksandar] Vucic in order to drive him into a corner and force him to join the anti-Russian sanctions," he noted.
Russia’s cooperation with Serbia is geared to boost that country’s combat capability, ensure its socio-economic stability, and strengthen its sovereignty, he added.
Situation around Kosovo
The situation in Kosovo was aggravated dramatically on December 6, when the Kosovo police along with EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) patrols began to seize premises housing electoral commissions in northern Kosovo and Metohija. Local Serbs repelled the Kosovars, who fled across the Ibar River. Two days later, on December 8, around 350 Kosovo policemen in armored cars intruded into the Serb-inhabited northern Kosovo and blocked the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica. On December 10, the Kosovo police detained Dejan Pantic, a former Serbian policeman, on dubious charges. In response, the Serb population erected barricades along a highway in several locations and took to the streets in protest.