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Serbo Journal

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Russia supports Serbia's Kosovo solution

A Russian government minister said Monday Moscow supports Serbia's stand to keep Kosovo as an autonomous Serbian province.

Sergey Shoygu, the Russian minister for civil defense and emergency situations, told Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica the position of Russia and President Vladimir Putin is that Kosovo's future status must not be imposed, nor should talks about Kosovo's future have a time limit.

Shoygu said the best solution for Kosovo is to remain an autonomous province within Serbia's borders, the RTS Serbian radio-television reported.

Kostunica applauded Putin's stand on Kosovo and said the Serbian government's position is based on the fact that Kosovo has been and should remain part of Serbia forever. Kosovo was a part of the Kingdom of Serbia until it was annexed under the Ottoman Empire and many of its Albanians converted to Islam. It was reunited with Serbia at the dawn of World War I.

U.N.-led talks between Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority on who shall govern the province once the United Nations and NATO troops leave have been held in Vienna since February. But no major breakthrough has been reached.

The Serbian government in Belgrade, representing Kosovo's 100,000 Serbs, insists no independent Kosovo is acceptable, while leaders of ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's 1.8 million population, insist on a Kosovo independent of Belgrade.

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