Saturday, April 30, 2005

Kosovo president says independence to "stabilize" Balkans - paper

Vienna, 30 April: Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova has said that he will not abandon [the idea of] Kosovo independence and direct recognition by the EU and USA.

In a statement to Vienna newspaper Die Presse he assessed that independence would contribute to stability in the Balkans and Kosovo society.

"The independence of Kosovo will stabilize Macedonia, which has a large Albanian community, as well as Albania, Montenegro, even Serbia," Rugova said.

He said that resolving Kosovo's status in phases would only prolong the situation and stressed that direct recognition was a better option.

"The international community first wants to analyse whether we have fulfilled the necessary standards and only after to turn to the matter of status. The phased approach proposed by the [Brussels-based] International Commission on the Balkans would only complicate matters," Rugova believes.

He said that he did not give much significance to the prospect of meeting and holding talks with Serbian President Boris Tadic.

"Representatives of Belgrade and Pristina are already discussing technical matters. Serbia could participate in an international conference on Kosovo, although without the right to a veto on the future status of Kosovo," Rugova emphasized.

"The progress we have made in Kosovo has brought us international recognition. Now the question is one of independence recognition, which for us has a practical meaning, because without it we do not have access to international financial institutions and are unable to open diplomatic missions abroad," Rugova concluded.

Source: Mina news agency, Podgorica, in Serbian 1104 gmt 30 Apr 05

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