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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Churkin Lashes Out At UN Kosovo Envoy

UNITED NATIONS -- Russia's UN ambassador accused the UN special envoy in Kosovo of delivering an extremely one-sided and unhelpful sermon promoting independence from Serbia.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Monday that he was very upset that the special envoy, Joachim Rucker, did not address the issue he was supposed to talk about in a report to the UN Security Council -- the implementation of eight standards crucial to the province's future.

"He gave a sermon to the council about the final status, which we're not even discussing now," Churkin said afterward, his voice rising. "His remarks have been extremely one-sided and unhelpful."

"Rather than telling the parties that they should look for accommodation, a mutually acceptable solution, they are jumping the gun and beginning to advocate outright independence, and this is not good," Churkin said.

But acting U.S. Ambassador ­Alejandro Wolff had a completely different view of Monday's briefing, saying, "Rucker gave a very ... balanced, objective presentation."

Wolff said he talked about the situation on the ground, "which is his mandate as the secretary-general's special representative," including decentralization, the rights of minorities and violence.

Rucker said he stuck to his mandate and did not get into the nature of Kosovo's status, "but I did describe perceptions on the ground."

The future of Kosovo has become a highly contentious issue because the province's majority ethnic Albanians want full independence, while the Serb minority insists that Kosovo remain part of Serbia.

Kosovo has been under UN and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999.

International officials had conditioned talks on the province's future status with progress on establishing functioning democratic institutions; protecting minorities; promoting economic development; and ensuring the rule of law, freedom of movement and property rights.

After a yearlong effort, UN envoy to Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, is expected to deliver his recommendations for Kosovo to the UN Security Council by the end of next week.

Ahtisaari said the potential for negotiations was exhausted on the plan, under which Kosovo would be granted internationally supervised statehood.