Monday, May 23, 2005

Envoys gather in London to discuss progress Kosovo has made on reforms

LONDON (AP) - International envoys gathered in London Monday to examine what progress Kosovo has made toward establishing democracy and protecting minority groups.

Britain's Foreign Office described the closed-door meeting of the so-called Contact Group as a stocktaking session ahead of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on May 27.

Kosovo has been an international protectorate administered by the United Nations and a NATO-led peacekeeping force since 1999, when a NATO air war ended a Serb crackdown on ethnic-Albanian separatists.

Serbs consider Kosovo an integral part of their state, but the province's ethnic Albanian majority want complete independence.

Talks to decide the province's final status will be held later this year, if Kosovo reaches internationally set standards for protecting minority rights, democratization and the reform of local governance.

The Contact Group monitoring Kosovo's progress includes representatives from United States, the European Union, Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Germany.

The group urged Bosnian leaders to comply with European Union demands for police reform, saying the EU principles were "not negotiable."

Bosnia has two police forces, one for each of the country's two ethnic mini states. The EU insists on unification of the two forces, which the Bosnian Serb mini state is opposing.

The Contact Group urged the Bosnian Serb Parliament, which is due to discuss the issue again on Monday, to approve the reforms, which are a precondition for Bosnia to begin membership negotiations with the EU.

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