Sunday, May 01, 2005

Kosovo leaders welcome UNMIK chief's proposal to create "informal forum"

Prishtina [Pristina], 29 April: An informal forum that will make decisions about the most important issues regarding the future of the country will be formed soon, it was reported after a meeting that UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen had with main political leaders of Kosova [Kosovo] on Friday [29 April].

After the meeting, Jessen-Petersen insisted that this will not be a body to replace the institutions, but will support them. According to him, from now on the major issues, such as the Standards, decentralization and status will go through this forum.

"I have proposed to the leaders that, while we move ahead, it could be useful to focus on key issues of national importance, such as the Standards implementation, decentralization, preparations for status, in an informal forum, for which I will create the necessary conditions, but which will not be a replacement for the current democratic institutions," Jessen-Petersen said after the meeting, which was held as a working lunch in an UNMIK restaurant.

"We have the Presidency, the prime minister, the government, the Assembly and the political parties and their chairmen, but we believe that the forum could support better functioning of all democratic institutions and it could be a support while we move ahead."

The UNMIK chief said that the month we have entered is "the most important month in the entire history of Kosova" and added that the details about forming the forum are not completely clear to him. However, he said that he will crystallize them soon and then send them to the political parties and take comments from them later.

The creation of this forum comes as a necessity to overcome deep disagreements between the government and the opposition over crucial issues that have to do with the future of Kosova before the talks on the status begin.

The aforementioned proposal was seen primarily by Kosovars as a good thing. Saying neither "yes" nor "no" to this project, Kosova President Ibrahim Rugova said: "There should be a general commitment and a path towards the development and the implementation of our projects. The proposed forum will help the institutions of Kosova and will help the political life in the country," he said briefly.

Rugova added that there should be peace in the country and special caution in order "for the independence of Kosova to be recognized as soon as possible".

According to Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, the ruling parties and those in opposition should discuss together and make joint decisions about the final status.

"We have our common goal, we have a united position, but we will create a team that takes political decisions, and we will also have a team of experts to prepare the strategy to move ahead," he said.

PDK [Democratic Party of Kosovo] chairman Hashim Thaci implied that he is in favour of such a project, saying that the proposal to create a forum is something completely new on the Kosovar political scene.

On behalf of the PDK, I encourage Jessen-Petersen to continue with the idea to create the political forum of Kosova, which should be a decision-making forum for the political process until the political status of Kosova is resolved, because it was also the internationals' conclusion that the previous month was one of regression for Kosova," he stated.

Thaci also said that as far as the dialogue on the status is concerned, "there should be a clear platform from the forum or from the Kosova Assembly".

The Hour [Hour Civic Initiative - ORA] representative Ylber Hysa said that this party has requested an even earlier creation of such a body, adding that it would have been much better if it had been created by Kosovars themselves. However, Hysa said that a meeting such as this, in an UNMIK restaurant, is no substitute for the institutions of Kosova.

"No debate here can replace the debate that should happen between Kosovars and which has unfortunately failed in the institutions of Kosova because of the rigid approach that the Assembly leaders have adopted," he said.

According to him, on this occasion The Hour expressed some conceptual differences. "We do not support a cosmetic solution to the problem. We favour a sustainable solution that guarantees a functional and democratic state where order and security are considered equally important standards as the other standards that are set by the international community," he said.

In the meantime, the structure of this forum will be clarified at the beginning of next week. Jessen-Petersen told the participants of today's meeting that on Monday [2 May] he will present written details of the project to leaders. [Passage omitted]

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 30 Apr 05 p 1,3

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