KOSOVO DECISION AS PRECEDENT FOR SELF-PROCLAIMED REPUBLICS

RIA Novosti, Russia
March 22 2005

MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - The settlement of the Kosovo
status problem can serve as a precedent for other regions seeking
independence, particularly Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia,
Northern Cyprus, Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the State
Duma Committee on International Affairs, said in an interview with
RIA Novosti.

Prospects for the Kosovo settlement will be prominent on the agenda of
the State Duma delegation's visit to the Balkans due on March 23-29,
he pointed out.

"There are many similar situations in Europe, which need a legally
coordinated resolution either in favor of territorial integrity or in
favor of the right of nations to self-determination. And the Kosovo
problem can become a precedent in this context," Kosachev said.

Another example for the solution of similar problems in Baltic states
can become the settlement of the problem of ethnic minorities in
Macedonia, the official believes.

The MP recalled the Ohrid agreements signed in Macedonia in 2002
after an ethnic conflict with the Albanians. They provide equality
with the state language for the language of an ethnic minority,
if it accounts for no less than 20% of the population.

"This case is very interesting and can be applied to the Baltic
problem," Kosachev noted.

The protection of ethnic minorities' rights will be one of the
most important issues during the visit of the Russian delegation to
the Balkans on March 22-29. The Russian MPs will go to Serbia and
Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.

"So far as Serbia and Montenegro is concerned this is one of our
closest partners both economically and historically," he stressed.

"We are interested in the preservation of the two republic's union.
But if the parties decide to split, this must be a civilized divorce",
the MP remarked.

He announced that the delegation is expected to meet heads of state,
foreign ministers and MPs in every country it visits.

"The countries take interest in Russia, and it is a good sign for us,"
the head of the State Duma' international affairs committee concluded.