Tuesday, March 29, 2005

UNMIK chief notes "change in climate" in Serbia-Kosovo relations

Jessen-Petersen told KosovaLive upon arrival at Prishtina airport that the official Belgrade has not yet given a clear signal for Kosova [Kosovo] Serbs to join the institutions, but he believes that this will happen in the coming weeks.

[KosovaLive] What did you agree with Serbia authorities?

[Jessen-Petersen] We agreed to continue the work of the group on missing persons. We also agreed to start the work with working groups on energy and on the return and now we have the chairman of this group from the EU. He is Jolly Dickinson. Whereas the UNHCR will chair the working group on the return. Serbia authorities also suggested that there should be talks on property issues as well. I think this is an important issue and we will consider it. We agreed to start with the dialogue on energy and on the return immediately and later on to see the issues related to property. President Tadic was very clear that he wants a direct dialogue with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and we will convey his stance to Prishtina authorities.

On the issue of decentralization, I insisted on the stance that this is a Prishtina-driven process, but we need Serbs to be a part of it. Of course, Belgrade is welcome to send its advisers. And finally, I welcomed the fact that the memorandum of understanding for the reconstruction of churches was signed, even though there was some confusion.

[KosovaLive] When do you think a meeting between the PISG with President Tadic can take place?

[Jessen-Petersen] I think we have to talk now with PISG. I want to inform them as I usually do when I come back. I think that they are in favour of having such a dialogue. As for the direct dialogue with President Tadic, this must be discussed now with the PISG and they (PISG) decide on it. I think this is good thing and would help building the confidence and preparing Prishtina and Belgrade for the status talks.

[KosovaLive] According to you the climate in the relations between Prishtina and Belgrade has started to change.

[Jessen-Petersen] I think it has changed. We have seen encouraging signs. I think it has changed because Belgrade has understood that, as I said many times, the train is moving with or without Belgrade. And it seems they want to be part of it and I think this is a good thing.

Now, I expect that Belgrade encourage Kosovo Serbs to be part of the dialogue and to join PISG. But I did not get a clear signal there, because they are working in a new policy. I think that this is a matter of weeks. Tadic was again clear that he wants Kosovo Serbs to join the PISG.

[KosovaLive] What can Belgrade do to convince Kosova Serbs to join the PISG?

[Jessen-Petersen] I think that a clear signal must be that they either become part of the government or of the Assembly. As you know the PISG have reserved portfolios for them in the government, second they should take part in the working group for decentralization and there is lot of other issues as well. They have to participate and you know it, but I think that Belgrade is close to make a decision. It remained that they join policies and give clear signals.

[KosovaLive] Which is the main obstacle in giving clear signals?

[Jessen-Petersen] There are four, five or six main leaders that have to agree on it. I think that it is an issue of different politicians to come together and to agree on policies.

[KosovaLive] You have got the list of the international organizations who could facilitate the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade?

[Jessen-Petersen] We have ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], which is continuing the dialogue on missing persons. Then we have EU, which have confirmed to me in Brussels that they would lead the working group on energy, and Jolly Dickinson would chair it. The UNHCR have confirmed last week that they are ready to chair the working group for the return. We have asked from the UNHCR to assign a senior official and we would see other issues later on.

Source: KosovaLive web site, Pristina, in English 29 Mar 05

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