Wednesday, April 06, 2005

German foreign minister rules out Kosovo's partition

Associated Press Writer
Associated Press Newswires
(c) 2005. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Wednesday dividing Kosovo is not an option, ahead of talks to determine the status of this disputed province later this year.

Fischer, on a second day of his Balkans tour, also urged the ethnic Abanian majority to do more to protect minorities and push through reforms, which are key conditions that must be met before talks can start this fall.

Fischer's visit in Kosovo was delayed for several hours after his plane broke down in Albania.

During his stay in Pristina, he met the province's President Ibrahim Rugova, Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, as well as senior U.N. and NATO officials. Earlier he visited the southern city of Prizren where he was greeted by Brig. Gen. Richard Rossmanith, the commander of the 2,500-strong German contingent, working in the province as part of a 18,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force.

Six years after the war, tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs persist in Kosovo, with attacks often targeting the dwindling Serb minority, threatening to deepen the ethnic divide.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations following the 1998-99 war that left about 10,000 people dead. NATO bombed Serb forces to end Belgrade's crackdown on majority ethnic Albanians in the province.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians seek full independence, while Belgrade insists Kosovo should remain part of Serbia-Montenegro -- a union that replaced Yugoslavia -- but enjoy broad autonomy.

The talks on the future status of Kosovo are expected to start in September if the province meets internationally set standards on human rights, rights of minorities and democratization.

The Swedish Defense Minister Leni Bjoerklund was also visiting some 300 Swedish troops. She will meet with the top NATO commander and senior U.N. official during a two day stop in the province.

No comments: