According to sources close to the Contact Group, some changes have been made in their approach to the problems in Kosovo, and in their terminology.
Namely, instead of using the term "final status," the term "future status" is now used by the Contact Group officials. It has been decided that the process of solving the crisis in Kosovo must be sped up, and EU High Representative Javier Solana and his team of officials have outlines the course of action. An international representative is expected to be named in Kosovo in May , who will be in charge of observing the progress of the implementation of Standards.
In September, the UN and [Secretary-General] Kofi Annan will appoint an international official for Kosovo who will have a similar role to the one [UN High Representative] Paddy Ashdown has in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Most officials of the Contact Group agree that the UN must have a special representative in Kosovo, that will follow the progress of Standards implementation.
"The Secretary-General expects to appoint an official who will be responsible for assessing progress. Who this person will be, I cannot tell you, because I have no indication from New York about what the Secretary-General is thinking, but a special official will be named, this is obvious to everyone." Contact Group official Michael Schaeffer said.
Representatives of the Contact Group were in Belgrade yesterday to hold talks with Serbia-Montenegro officials about standards in Kosovo.
Serbia-Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic's cabinet released a statement after yesterday's meetings, saying that the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo is still struggling and that this is the direction in which the implementation of Standards must be geared.
"Since it is planned that we will talk about Kosovo's status after the Standards have been implemented, we feel that we must look for a compromise which calls for a status that is greater than autonomy and less than independence," according to the statement.
Serbia-Montenegro officials also stated that dialogue on many levels is necessary in order to reach a long-term solution, and that regional stability will be very important, adding that every call for secession would have extreme consequences.
Box: No one-sided solutions
Contact Group officials said that there cannot be any one-sided solutions and that the solutions must be geared towards the European future of the region and promote democracy and multi-ethnicity.
Representatives of the Contact Group will be going to Pristina today to evaluate progress made in the implementation of Standards. They will first meet with international organization officials from UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] and Kfor [NATO-led Kosovo Force] and other non-governmental organizations and will meet on Wednesday [12 April] with Kosovo Serb officials.
"We expect to spend a lot of time discussing Standards, talking about what has yet to be done. Little has been done, and we will discuss the security situation of Serbs, return issues and decentralization. It is obvious that decentralization, as it is currently outlined, will not be a satisfactory solution. It does not show clear formations of new municipalities and full decentralization of the government with the central level being municipal, which is what we are insisting on. I think it should be clear to everyone, including the members of the Contact Group, because everyone agrees that the temporary institutions, especially the government, are slowing down and getting in the way of the decentralization process." Kosovo Serb official Oliver Ivanovic said.