Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kosovo must be dealt with in broader European context: Zoellick

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AFP) - Talks about the future of Kosovo will have a greater chance of success if all European states take part and the Serbian province is treated as a future EU member, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said here. "The discussions over Kosovo's future status will be most successful if they take place within a broader European context and there is a recognition of a vision in future for these countries within the European space," Zoellick said in Slovenia at the start of a 14-nation tour of Europe.

"This is not easy because the EU has been moving through a rather extensive enlargement process. It's got a constitutional process and there are some people in other capitals in Europe that probably want to take a pause", Zoellick added.

Talks over Kosovo's final status are expected to take place later this year between the Albanian ethnic authorities and the Serbian representatives which were forced to leave the province under the UN administration after NATO's 1999 intervention.

The head of the UN mission in the province has suggested it could start in September.

Zoellick said 2005 will be a year during which "various standards will be reviewed and status discussions will take place" related to Kosovo.

"The future of Kosovo obviously depends on discussions with Serbia," he said.

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