Saturday, March 12, 2005

Montenegro and Albania urge Kosovo status to be solved as soon as possible

The final status of the UN-run province of Kosovo should be determined this year and respect the will of its citizens, with the approval of the international community, Albanian President Alfred Moisiu said Friday.

"The status should represent the expressed will of Kosovo citizens and be approved by the international community, first of all the United States and the European Union," Moisiu told reporters here after meeting his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Vujanovic.

During the two-day visit of Moisiu -- the first Albanian head of state to visit neighboring Montenegro -- Vujanovic called for the final status of Kosovo to be solved as soon as possible as "the only remaining security problem in the region" of the Balkans.

Kosovo became a UN protectorate after a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 aimed at ending a crackdown by the forces of then-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic on the ethnic Albanian majority, which seeks independence from Serbia.

The province is officially part of loose union of Serbia and Montenegro, but its final status is yet to be decided.

A UN review of the Kosovo government's efforts to meet UN-set standards of democracy is expected this year before a decision is taken on whether to open talks on the final status of the province.

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