During yesterday's talks with the Contact Group, the state leadership took a united front and let everyone know that they are ready to get involved in dialogue immediately. In addition, we also reiterated that the most acceptable solution for Kosovo is the more-than-autonomy-less-than-independence formula, Kosovo Coordination Centre head Nebojsa Covic said. He pointed out that the entire region should enter the EU together and adopt all European standards. Branislav Kostadinovic reports.
[Kostadinovic] We told members of the international Contact Group that Serbia was ready for the soonest possible restoration of working groups for return, decentralization and energy, as well as for talks at the highest level, meaning a meeting between Tadic and [Kosovo President] Rugova, Nebojsa Covic explained. To the Contact Group's principles that rule out a return to the pre-1999 state and Kosovo's unification with some other state, the Serbian side added two more: that any change of Kosovo's borders is unacceptable and that the current status quo is unsustainable. Covic dismissed announcements by formal and informal international groups and commissions, as well as by some local politicians, about Kosovo's impending or further independence as water-testing, and warned of the danger to the entire region if this were to happen.
[Covic] If such an approach, which means unregulated standards, were to be used in Kosovo, then this may cause a domino effect and result in it being used elsewhere in the region, primarily in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, and so forth.
[Kostadinovic] An independent Kosovo can be forced on Belgrade, but we certainly will not be accomplices to that. In Serbia no politician would sign on to such an approach, Covic pointed out. He reiterated that Kosovo can have a high degree of autonomy that may extend as far as to the status of a republic, but one should keep in mind that the state union already has one republic, namely Montenegro.
[Covic] I think EU integration is the solution for the entire region. Whether Kosovo will be a protectorate or not, I do not know. However, I am sure that Kosovo will continue to be run by the international factor in many years to come.
[Kostadinovic] Furthermore, Covic said that representatives of Serbs must join working groups and work constructively to the best of their abilities. Only later should they consider joining Kosovo's interim institutions.