Text of report by Igor K Ilievski entitled "Dramatic turnabout in Kosovo: Firstly status, border afterward!" published by the Macedonian newspaper Dnevnik on 14 May
The border between Kosovo and Macedonia cannot be marked before the determination of the province's final status, UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] stated. This is a dramatic turnabout in the agreed positions so far that the demarking of Kosovo and Macedonia is to precede the talks on the final status of Kosovo.
Macedonia yesterday reiterated its request for the border with Kosovo to be demarcated before the talks on the final status of the province commence, since UNMIK declared itself incompetent on the demarcation the day before yesterday [12 May]. President Branko Crvenkovski insists on Macedonia's position of so far, "border first, then status", while Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski believes that the future status of Kosovo cannot be defined until the border has been demarcated.
The civil administration in Kosovo took the position the day before yesterday that no partner from the Kosovo side could be found for the demarcation of the border with Macedonia before a certain status of the province had been determined.
"We again assessed that the issue is a technical one. The UNMIK position is from a formal-legal aspect not the clearest one. The issue is being worked on, but not too loudly," Defence Minister Jovan Manasijevski said after a meeting with Kosovo administrator [UNMIK chief] Soeren Jessen-Petersen.
Buckovski says that it is unimportant who the border is to be demarcated with. "To us it is irrelevant who is going to be a partner in the border demarcation. That is a technical, not a political issue, and there is nothing contestable about the border with Kosovo. But because somebody consciously wants to make a problem out of an easily solvable matter and wants to take it to the absurd. Without a defined border, the final status of Kosovo cannot be defined, either. That is one of the criteria, while the idea was also accepted for the province to declare clearly that it has no ambitions for the annexation of other territories," Buckovski said.
President Crvenkovski, too, insists on demarcation of the border before the negotiations on the final status, which are to commence this fall.
"Bringing a decision about the Kosovo status with an incomplete border demarcation issue with Macedonia might encourage the radical structures and become a new cause of instability, not only for Macedonia, but for the region as well. That is why this issue should be closed as soon as possible. That is an interest of the Republic of Macedonia, and we should insist on that position," they announced yesterday in the president's cabinet.
Source: Dnevnik, Skopje, in Macedonian 14 May 05 pp 1-2