Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia's prime minister, said: "Any attempt to hide the project of [Kosovo] province's independence behind a several-month delay is unacceptable." 

 

"Any attempt to hide the project of [Kosovo] province's independence behind a several-month delay is unacceptable"

Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia's prime minister

The text makes no explicit mention of independence and merely "expresses its appreciation" for the plan by Martti Ahtisaari, the UN mediator on Kosovo, to grant "supervised independence" to the Albanian-majority Serbian province.

  

But it states that key provisions contained in Ahtisaari's settlement plan "shall come into force upon the conclusion of the [120-day] period ... unless the Security Council expressly decides otherwise after conducting an evaluation".

  

The Ahtisaari plan is backed by Kosovo's Albanian majority, the US and the EU, but opposed by Serbia and its ally Russia, which last month threatened to veto an earlier Western draft endorsing the UN settlement proposal.

  

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN, said that the draft was still "unacceptable" because it stipulates that "there would only be a limited period of negotiation" after which "if nothing else happens, Mr Ahtisaari's proposal is going to go into force".

  

"This is not good enough. Such kind of a formula is not going to provide sufficient incentive for the two parties to negotiate seriously," he said. "It is unacceptable."

  

Alejandro Wolff, the US deputy ambassador to the UN, said the delay "is designed to allow for continuing negotiations, something several members of the council believe would be useful".

  

"The outcome of this process is still the same outcome," he said. "So I think the Kosovars will understand that."

  

Karen Pierce, Britain's deputy UN ambassador, said: "We believe that's a fair way to proceed, but at the same time we do expect that further period will be used wisely, not to press for unrealistic ambitions, we look to Belgrade in particular to come forward with realistic proposals." 

  

Kosovo has been under UN stewardship since 1999, after a Nato bombing campaign helped to drive out Serb forces carrying out a crackdown on the majority ethnic Albanians.