Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Kosovo is lost cause for Serbia, says Albanian minister

Albanian Defence Minister Pandeli Majko said Tuesday the UN-run southern Serbian province of Kosovo was a "lost cause" for Belgrade, which has vowed to resist the Kosovo Albanian majority's demands for independence.

"Kosovo is a lost cause for Serbia," he told a local television station a day after Serbian President Boris Tadic ended a landmark visit to Serb minority enclaves in the province, the first by a Serbian head of state since the 1998-1999 war.

"The current Serb political leadership still does not want to recognise that the responsibility for the loss of Kosovo is not theirs, but rather (former Yugoslav president Slobodan) Milosevic's and his former regime's."

Kosovo became a UN protectorate after a NATO bombing campaign forced Milosevic's forces to withdraw from the province and end a crackdown on ethnic Albanian guerrillas, who had taken arms to demand independence.

The province technically remains part of Serbia and Tadic reiterated Belgrade's refusal to contemplate its independence during his visit to Serb villages there this week.

The UN is expected to convene talks on Kosovo's final status later this year.

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