Thursday, May 19, 2005

Kosovo opposition parties disagree on need for early talks with Belgrade

The readiness of Kosova [Kosovo] Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi and his Serbian counterpart Vojislav Kostunica to meet has triggered the first official reactions from the Kosovar parliamentary opposition.

Berat Luzha, member of the PDK [Democratic Party of Kosovo] Steering Council and deputy in the Kosova Assembly, said that there should not be too much of a rush to start the high-level dialogue with Belgrade, because Serbia has not yet completed its obligations toward Kosova in order for the relations between the two countries to relax.

Luzha: Without rush

"I do not believe that the prime minister should rush the issue of possible talks with the Serbian prime minister. In my view, his readiness is premature and hasty," Luzha said. He added, "Even if some think that the talks are technical, nevertheless they are political talks and such contacts might have a direct negative impact on the final status of Kosova."

Luzha emphasized that Serbia should first have made serious steps to establish the fate of missing persons, which remains a very sensitive problem. What does not justify the rush of local officials to meet senior Belgrade officials, in Luzha's view, is also the lack of a public apology from the Serbian authorities to Kosova for the victims caused during the war by a regime that was also harshly judged by the international community.

"Serbia has never so far expressed regret, let alone apologized. On the contrary, it is still continuing a policy similar to that of Milosevic. For this reason it is difficult to achieve success in any possible dialogue with this regime and this government of Belgrade," Luzha said.

He said that in principle the PDK was not against a policy of dialogue, but favourable conditions and circumstances should be created first in order for the dialogue to succeed.

Sahatciu: Processes should not be stopped

Teuta Sahatciu, floor leader of the second opposition party, The Hour, said that after every war that had been waged in various countries of the world a process of normalizing relations was inevitable.

She said that, although the situation had not relaxed as much as it should, the need to normalize relations was a hasty [as published] process that should be realized to the extent that was acceptable to both parties, without rushing to enter in detail about the need for a political consensus.

She said that, although Serbia should have made the first step by apologizing, the processes should not be stopped. "It is known that the situation is not relaxed and an apology after every war between the participating people could last for years, as well as the search for people considered missing, then pension payments, mutual debts, and so on. But the first meetings should certainly take place," she said.

She added that the countries could not resolve any disagreements over concrete problems without sitting around the discussion table to present all the problems.

Despite all these challenges that are a barrier to the positive processes between the two countries, Sahatciu said that the prime minister could arrange a meeting with his Serbian counterpart about technical issues and without any prior decision in the Assembly.

"The Assembly has elected the government and the government should have its powers to continue its work. The Assembly's consent should be requested on some major issues, but the fact is that the government leads the executive and we believe that it has sufficient legitimacy to take these steps, too," Hour floor leader Teuta Sahatciu concluded.

Source: Kosova Sot, Pristina, in Albanian 18 May 05 p4

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