Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rupel: Kosovo, Central Asia Need Immediate Attention

(c) 2005 STA, Slovenska Tiskovna Agencija d.o.o

Vilnius, 21 April (STA) - Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the OSCE

chairman, has reiterated his belief that the future of Kosovo and the

building of democracy in Central Asia are issues that require immediate


Addressing an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Vilnius on

Thursday, Rupel said that, although some believe that these two issues

should be tackled slowly, he is of a different opinion.

The main problem faced by these countries is that they are already behind.

This is why I believe democracy-building efforts should be bolstered in

Central Asia and the talks on a final status of Kosovo launched as soon as

possible, Rupel told his NATO counterparts.

The time is running out in Kosovo's case, Rupel said, adding that he had

heard inspiring messages from Serbian officials during his recent visit to


Rupel, who was on a three-country tour of Central Asia this week, said the

biggest threat in Central Asia is organised crime, porous borders,

authoritarian regimes, poverty and ethnic discrimination.

In his opinion, the chances are very slim that the recent revolution in

Kyrgyzstan will result in a domino effect and the toppling of regimes in

other Central Asian republics.

Prior to today's meeting, Rupel held a brief meeting with US State

Secretary Condoleezza Rice on the situation in Kyrgyzstan. He acquainted

Rice with his recent talks with Kyrgyz officials.

Rupel also met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarsyuk, who presented

Ukraine's proposal for resolving the Trans-Dniester conflict.

Ukrainian President Viktor Juschenko is expected to unveil the proposal at

Friday's meeting of the GUUAM group in Moldova's Kishinev.

Rupel also welcomed today's signing of an agreement between Russia and

NATO on military cooperation that will allow joint military exercises.

According to him, the NATO-Russia council is one of the best forums for

bringing Europe and the US closer.

He underscored the importance the OSCE places on cooperation between

Europe - including Russia - and the US. The OSCE is determined to promote

stability in Central Asia and the Caucasus, he added.

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