Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Serbia-Montenegro adopts positions ahead of key UN meeting

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The state union of Serbia and Montenegro has unanimously adopted the basic positions on Kosovo's efforts in implementing international standards as the United Nations Security Council is set to discuss the future status of Kosovo, local radio said Wednesday.

The positions were agreed on Tuesday at a meeting attended by top government officials, including Serbian President Boris Tadic, Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Draskovic and Kosovo Coordination Center chief Nebojsa Covic, said the independent radio B92.

It was agreed upon that a basic protection of the rights of Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo has not been implemented, nor have the standards of free movement.

In addition, the return of Serb refugees to their homes in Kosovo has not been implemented, and according to the UN Mission in Kosovo, only 3 percent of Serb refugees have returned to their homes, said the radio.

However, the temporary institutions in Kosovo expect that Kosovo will receive a positive evaluation of the implementation of standards at the May 27 UN meeting, and that a special emissary will be named to assess the progress in standards which the United Nations has asked Kosovo authorities to implement before the final status talks.

Kosovo Presidential Representative Muhamed Hamiti said that the Security Council meeting should open the door to a process which will eventually lead to the independence of Kosovo.

"We expect the Security Council to attest to the progress which has been made in Kosovo and to open the path to what is called an all-encompassing assessment of standards and the beginning of the process of finalizing Kosovo's status, which we call the closing of the process for the independence of Kosovo, because that would be the optimal solution," Hamiti was quoted as saying by the radio.

A de facto UN protectorate, Kosovo is legally part of Serbia. Its future status remains the subject of a bitter dispute between the independence-seeking Albanian majority and the minority Serbs, who want to remain in Serbia.

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