Monday, April 04, 2005

Rupel Urges Belgrade and Pristina to Launch Talks on Kosovo

Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Dimitrij Rupel, who began a two-day visit to Serbia-Montenegro on Monday, said in talks with Serbian officials that Belgrade and Pristina should begin negotiations on the status of Kosovo as soon as possible.
In a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, Rupel expressed the wish that Belgrade authorities would encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the activities of the province's institutions, STA has learnt from the Slovenian delegation. Holding a joint news conference before the meeting with Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, Rupel meanwhile highlighted that Serbia and Montenegro should have a future in the EU, which should hopefully be the case for Kosovo as well.
He said that the OSCE would follow three main principles of the EU as regards the status of Kosovo: firstly, the province cannot be divided, secondly, it cannot join any other Albanian ethnic community and thirdly, it cannot go back to the status in place before 1999.
The OSCE and its presiding country Slovenia, according to Rupel, favour the principle of "inclusiveness", which promotes integration, cooperation and consent in addressing the question of the province's future. "We wish that Serbia-Montenegro would launch dialogue with Kosovo and we wish to help in that," Rupel reiterated the willingness of OSCE and
Slovenia to assist in settling the Kosovo status.

Serbia-Montenegro FM Draskovic meanwhile told the press ahead of the meeting that the stance of his country is clear, namely that the country's borders, including that with Albania, "should not change, nor can this border be named any other way".
As to observing the international standards in the province, Draskovic insisted that the standards should be fully implemented, which means that "the highest level of protection should be secured for ethical minorities...and a safe return of displaced persons ensured".
While Milosevic insisted on "Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo or death" and Albanian extremists were proclaiming "Kosovo's independence or death", the government in Belgrade thinks the province deserves a new, European status in line with the formula "more than autonomy, less than independence", Draskovic said.
Rupel is due in Podgorica on Tuesday to meet Montenegro President Filip Vujanovic, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivokapic, Foreign Minister Miodrag Vlahovic and opposition leader Predrag Bulatovic.

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