Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Kosovo Status Discussed at International Conference in Sofia

Sofia, May 9 (BTA) - The Kosovo status issue solving should start in September of October, we do not want Kosovo to remain black hole for the region and the EU accession of countries from the region should go in parallel with this problem solution, Kosovo's former Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi said at the Problem with Kosovo and the Euroatlantic Future of the Western Balkans international conference, which took place Monday at Sheraton Hotel in Sofia.

According to him, currently unemployment in Kosovo stands at between 55 and 70 per cent, depending on the methods of calculation and economic development without solving the status issue could not be expected, as no one is willing to invest in the territory. The problem solution is also good for Serbia and we will be able to behave as good neighbours, Rexhepi added.

According to a representative of the Foreign Ministry of Serbia and Montenegro, the future status of Kosovo should be accepted as something unique, to be more than an autonomy and Kosovo might receive a certain level of independency. Taking a question, he said that the Serbian side is fully opened for a dialogue on the issue.

We want to be an independent state, as Kosovo's independency would benefit all ethnic groups, including the Serbs, Kosovo's Regional Development Minister Lutfi Haziri said. According to him, the main principles to be applied, are observance of standards and free movement.

The Executive Director of the International Commission on the Balkans Ivan Krastev said that Kosovo status has to be cleared to facilitate the EU accession of the countries from the region.

The conference was organized by the NATO Information Centre in Sofia, Open Society Institute - Sofia and the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. TD/RI

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