Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 3 July 2007.

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Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Assistant Chief Whip (Commons) 2:30, 3 July 2007

What recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the final status of Kosovo.

Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe)

Last month, the former Foreign Secretary discussed Kosovo with our EU colleagues at the General Affairs and External Relations Council and in the run-up to the European Council. This issue is also frequently raised in bilateral meetings with EU member states.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Opposition Assistant Chief Whip (Commons)

Will the Minister confirm that the Government continue to consider the integrity of UN resolution 1244 and the territory of sovereign states? Will he also confirm that Her Majesty's Government will never unilaterally recognise an independent Kosovo?

Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe)

Her Majesty's Government support the UN special envoy Ahtisaari's proposals, which took 14 months of intense negotiations and involved Serbs and Kosovo Albanians. He carried out his negotiations professionally and with integrity and we believe that that formed the basis of the subsequent UN resolution.

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

May I add my congratulations to you on your birthday, Mr. Speaker? May I also congratulate the Minister on his new appointment? No doubt the Opposition will work closely with him.

Will the Minister confirm that the Ahtisaari plan for the future of an independent Kosovo is the only fair and sustainable option on the table at the moment? Will he also confirm that his Government have been having discussions with the Russians, to persuade them that neither they nor their Serb rivals have anything to fear from an independent Kosovo? If he is unable to persuade the Russians that they should not use their veto, what contingency plans has he to deal with the situation in that event?

Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his warm welcome. He is right to say that we have discussions and negotiations with our Russian colleagues on this important issue, as we do with others throughout Europe. This is also an issue that has been discussed between the Presidents of the United States and Russia over the past 48 hours. One of the areas of concern to Russia and the Serbs is the protection of Kosovo Serbs. The Ahtisaari plan is very detailed and contains a comprehensive set of protections, which should provide important comfort as we move towards establishing the new UN resolution.