2005 will also be a key year in the western Balkans where the European Union is increasingly engaged. Lasting stabilization of this region can only be achieved through close cooperation between the European Union, NATO, the UN and the OSCE. This applies to Bosnia and Herzegovina and, above all, to Kosovo. Around mid-year, it will be decided whether and when negotiations on the status issue can begin. It is up to political leaders - both Albanians and Serbs - to create the prerequisites for an acceptable solution.
We will lend our support to a solution which is both realistic and points the way ahead. Above all, this includes a long-term constructive European perspective based on European values and standards, such as protection of minorities, the repatriation of refugees and decentralization. The European perspective applies to Kosovo and to the entire western Balkans.