"Negotiations will start this year, but it is not known when they will end, Jessen-Petersen said", published by Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 5 January
Prishtina [Pristina], 4 January: Kosova [Kosovo] head administrator Soeren Jessen-Petersen said on Tuesday [4 January] that there would be talks on Kosova's final status, if mid-2005 produced a positive assessment for Standards, but he added that he did not know whether or not these talks could end this year.
In a news conference at Prishtina airport after returning from a two-week holiday in Denmark, the UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief said that he was ready to continue contributing to bringing the country to the position where the discussions could start about the final status, which we all wanted.
"All I can say is that, if we work properly for the implementation of priority Standards and have a positive assessment, then I know that the talks on the final status will begin this year, but I cannot say if they will end this year. It is too early," Jessen-Petersen said.
The head of the international administration said that 2005 was a very important year for Kosova, adding that hard work awaited the locals and internationals, especially in Standards fulfilment in the coming months.
He added that, in addition to Standards, the local institutions should not forget the commitments to the economy. In his view, implementing Standards and improving the economic situation are the main priorities for 2005.
"The year that we have just entered is of special importance. The top priorities are already clear. The first priority is implementing priority Standards in order to achieve a positive assessment and then heading towards the beginning of the talks on the final status. Another priority is to work harder to improve the economic situation, namely achieve rapid economic development. These two things are the top priorities. This is what the citizens, as well as we, expect," he said.
Jessen-Petersen also spoke about the meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica that will be held in Belgrade on 17 January. He said that, in addition to the issue of the decentralization process and the missing persons, he would also be talking to him about the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade.
"We have invited Belgrade to have an advisory role (in the decentralization process). We have made clear to them that we are ready to see some of the positive parts of Belgrade's plan, but also to talk about the issue of missing persons, which is a priority and humanitarian issue," he said. "I believe that neither Kostunica nor I have the right to delay the solution of this problem."
On this occasion, the Kosova head administrator also expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the tsunami that hit Asia last week, killing approximately 150,000 people.