No deal in last hour of Kosovo talks: envoys

Serbs and Kosovo Albanians were unable to agree on Wednesday on the future of the breakaway province of Kosovo, EU envoy Wolfgang Ischinger said.“Regrettably the parties were unable to reach agreement on status,” Ischinger told a news conference in Vienna after the talks at a spa hotel outside the Austrian capital.

Negotiations have been going on since Monday without any sign of a breakthrough.

U.S. envoy Frank Wisner said the peace of the region was “very much at stake” and urged both sides to keep their pledge to preserve peace and dialogue beyond the end of formal negotiations.

The mediators, from the European Union, the United States and Russia, will make final visits to Serbia and Kosovo next Monday before submitting a report to the United Nations, due by December 10.

The three-day meeting between Serbs and Albanians in Baden was the sixth and last since late August.

The United States and European Union say the mediation ends with the report to the United Nations. But Serbia’s ally Russia has already blocked independence in the Security Council and says it will “insist” on further negotiation.

After eight years under U.N. control and NATO protection, and with no compromise in sight, the West sees independence under EU supervision as the only viable solution to the dispute.

Kosovo prime minister-in-waiting Hashim Thaci expressed regret that no agreement was possible with Serbia.

“Unfortunately no deal was reached,” said Kosovo Albanian President Fatmir Sejdiu. He said the province would go ahead with a plan to declare independence with Western backing.

Serbian President Boris Tadic insisted compromise was still possible, and warned the ethnic Albanian majority against a unilateral declaration of independence within months.

“For Serbia this doesn’t mean that compromise is impossible,” Tadic told reporters.

But Serbia would without hesitation “annul” a declaration of independence, which otherwise would have a “domino effect” across the region and beyond, he said.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica says the independence demanded by Kosovo’s 90 percent Albanian majority cannot be legally obtained by a unilateral declaration backed by the West.

“For Serbia only a solution within the Security Council is acceptable,” Kostunica said on Tuesday. “These negotiations have lasted for two years. The way they started is the way they must end — in the Security Council.”

Kosovo Albanian President Fatmir Sejdiu said: “The Kosovo parliament will have the final word on status,” and a declaration would be made “in coordination” with the West.

The declaration would come “in a time not far away from now”, he said.

Kostunica refused to detail an “Action Plan” his government is drawing up in anticipation of a unilateral declaration, but Serbia warns of violent unrest, and has raised the possibility that Serbs whose mini-republic makes up half of Bosnia could demand, in their turn, to secede from that state.

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