Sunday, December 19, 2004

Contact Group wants Kosovo Serbs included in all dialogue - UNMIK chief

UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen said today, after meeting representatives of the Contact Group Plus in Prishtina, that the Kosova institutions had been given support in implementing the priority Standards and that the opposition would play an active role with its criticism in contributing to the functioning of the democratic institutions and by being part of these institutions.

Jessen-Petersen said that the meeting of the Contact Group with the new heads of institutions was very important.

"The Contact Group Plus listened to what our priorities were and how the new institutions would be moving forward. I think that listening to the opposition was important support, too, which will play an important role with its criticism in contributing to the functioning of the democratic institutions and with their presence in these institutions," Jessen-Petersen said, and reiterated the position of the Contact Group that the Kosova Serbs should be included in all dialogue and that this was a good opportunity for them.

The representatives of the Contact Group also held meetings with representatives of the Serb minority.

The international factors that are represented in the Contact Group have tried to encourage the Serbs to participate in the Kosova institutions.

However, Oliver Ivanovic, a representative of the Serb minority, said that this would not happen now. On the other hand, speaking about decentralization, he said that Belgrade should be involved in the process.

"Decentralization should ensure functioning local institutions, guarantee substantial transfer of powers and reorganize municipalities, which means the creation of new ones," Ivanovic said, adding that he was certain that the Serbs would not join the new institutions.

"We will not participate, because we have no credibility in representing them, because of the small number of votes that we received. This is why we cannot make decisions on important issues. However, everything will depend on whether or not the prime minister goes to The Hague. We will then reconsider our position. If the prime minister goes to the Hague, we could have a political crisis and violence could escalate," Ivanovic said.

In his view, the Kosova Assembly chairman and prime minister were only talking, but not doing anything concrete.

This was the last meeting this year of the Contact Group Plus, which is made up of the five most developed countries in the world, NATO, EU, UNMIK, and the heads of the Kosova institutions, to discuss the implementation of the Standards for Kosova.

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