Monday, April 18, 2005

Kosovo opposition party leader wants direct Pristina-Belgrade talks

Announcer] Kosovo Police Service [KPS] spokesman Refki Morina has said that three children were slightly injured in Pristina last night after an explosive device went off and damaged the premises of the opposition ORA party, headed by [publisher and owner of Koha Ditore Group] Veton Surroi. The explosive device was planted in a residential building in central Pristina and the children were hurt by shards of broken glass. Surroi said that the explosion was a politically-motivated attack against his party and the fight against organized crime, assessing that the situation in Kosovo is worsening. Danica Vucinic has a report.

[Reporter] In an interview with Radio B92's "Index Finger" programme, Surroi assessed that Kosovo is entering a period of crisis, which had started with the accusations made by a section of the opposition that members of [Kosovo President] Ibrahim Rugova's DSK [Kosovo Democratic League; LDK in Albanian] were linked to organized crime.

[Surroi, in Serbian] I expect that, in the days to come, the whole story about people who were in some way or other in a symbiosis of politics and unlawful activities will be broadened out. This is a very serious accusation, and it must be treated seriously. I think that UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] has already realized the seriousness of the situation.

What I expect to happen in the coming week and month is that we will have an escalation of those accusations and counter-accusations, and this will be an interesting but also very difficult period, this war over secret files [as heard].

[Reporter] Referring to future negotiations about Kosovo's [status], the ORA leader said that status was not an issue to be solved exclusively between Belgrade and Pristina. This problem is to a large extent an issue between Pristina and the international community. What Belgrade can and must discuss is the problems and legitimate interests of Kosovo Serbs.

In contrast to Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova, our collocutor believes that direct talks between the Belgrade and Pristina political leaderships were necessary, adding that they should be attended by the international community.

[Surroi] I think that both Belgrade and Pristina should list a catalogue of open issues that must be solved. At any rate, both Pristina and Belgrade will have to sit down, because the list of those things, those open issues, is so long that a few rounds of talks can serve only to make a list of what those issues are and identify them.

I think that the pressure by the international community will be much stronger than it is now, pressure for those talks between Pristina and Belgrade, and I think that Kosovo politicians must bear this in mind.

[Reporter] Asked what guarantees could be offered to Kosovo Serbs so that they might agree to live in an independent Kosovo, Surroi answered as follows:

[Surroi] Kosovo Serbs must take part in this whole process of defining status, and defining the manner in which internal relations within Kosovo are regulated. They will create guarantees for themselves, precisely through their participation.

The problems are so big, but not only because of the conflict and transition. Even if there had been no interethnic problems, the problems with the inclusion of different opinions in the institutions would always be a problem.

I often joke with the Kosovo Serbs. The other day, I saw them, we were at a round table, and I told them: Come on, return to the institutions so that these autocratic authorities beat us up together in the same way, because now it is only we who are at the receiving end of those political blows.

[Reporter] Veton Surroi believes that the Kosovo Serbs will very soon re-join the institutions.

Source: Radio B92, Belgrade, in Serbian 1500 gmt 18 Apr 05

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