Text of report in English by Slovene news agency STA
Belgrade, 14 April: Time is running out for the Balkan and unless things move forward within this year, the train called Euro-Atlantic integration could be missed, Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the OSCE chairman, wrote in a guest op-ed for Belgrade-based magazine Vreme on Thursday [14 April].
The year 2005 is a "pivotal point for the Western Balkan region and its people. This is a rare window of opportunity, which ought not to be missed," according to the OSCE chair.
According to Rupel, it is unclear how much longer global attention can be sustained in the Balkans, for "there are other world hot-spots and regions... [agency's ellipsis] and other pressing issues like the fight against global terrorism and WMD proliferation that are preoccupying the USA and the EU".
He said there are two EU approaches he sees for the Balkans: "One possibility is the process of rapid integration, where additional aid and political capital is pumped into the area. The other is the process of disintegration, where strict visa regimes, rigid spending and political isolation become the norm."
Rupel named the status of Kosovo as "no doubt the most difficult issue to resolve, and politically most sensitive". Yet he also notes that things have changed on this dimension with the new government in Kosovo.
"Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi understands the nature of the problem well, and I trust he is committed to a stable and peaceful solution to the future status of Kosovo, which of course also entails full and maximum protection of the Serb minority, and an open and active dialogue with Belgrade," Rupel said.
He concluded by saying that "all countries of the Western Balkans will sooner or later have to be integrated fully into the EU and NATO. This is the only realistic and lasting solution which will ensure stability and progress in the region."
Source: STA news agency, Ljubljana, in English 1818 gmt 14 Apr 05