Post "Lobster Summit"--U.S. Shifts Away from Confrontation with Russia on Kosovo
July 9, 2007 • 1:05PM

The U.S. has pulled back from its dangerous confrontational course regarding the status of Kosovo, just days after the dramatic Bush-Putin meeting at Kennebunkport, July 1-2. Although it was officially reported that Bush and Putin had left the issue of Kosovo for later discussions between Rice and Lavrov, the dramatic shift towards cooperation at the summit may have included a tacit agreement that Bush would step down from his earlier pronouncement, made in Albania on June 10, that the West must act "sooner rather than later" if Russia continued blocking a UN Security Council resolution for Kosovo's supervised independence from Serbia.

After the summit, Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, speaking at a conference in the Croatian city Dubrovnik over the weekend, publicly expressed his doubt that Kosovo's future would be solved quickly, "suggesting that an agreement that would enable it to claim independence might not come until next year," according to the New York Times today. Fried also told representatives at the conference on NATO enlargement, that he hoped Kosovo's future could be resolved in the months leading up to the NATO meeting in Romania in April 2008. According to the Times report, there is a "consensus among European and American policy makers, that the status quo will have to remain for months, in the hope that Russia can eventually agree to a resolution allowing for effective independence for Kosovo."

Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, responded Monday morning by demanding that Bush act on his pre-Lobster Summit statement. In a weekly radio address covered by Reuters, Ceku said: "President Bush said that one day we should say 'enough is enough.' This 'enough' should have a date," Ceku blamed Russian resistance for the crisis. He is scheduled to meet US spokesman Fried in Pristina Monday.

At the same time, the UN representative to Kosovo is addressing the Security Council Monday morning. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, warned in a paper last week that "progress achieved by the United Nations and the provisional institutions in Kosovo can begin to unravel if the status of the province remains unsolved." A similar warning was given by Hoop Scheffer, the NATO secretary general. Both are as it seems afraid that some sort of violence will break out, similar to the March 2004 Albanian attacks against Serbian religious sites in Kosovo.

Meanwhile Interfax reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday during a press conference in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, that any resolution on Kosovo that is not acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina will not pass in the UN Security Council.