Thursday, June 30, 2005

Petritsch candidate for Kosovo status talks

Belgrade/ Vienna - One of Austria's most experienced Balkans diplomats, Wolfgang Petritsch, is the leading candidate for the post of chief negotiator in talks on the future status of Kosovo, says the Belgrade news agency BETA quoting diplomatic sources in Brussels.

In the Kosovo status talks due to begin this autumn, "everything points to the chief negotiator being a European. The decisive factor will be his experience in Balkans affairs."

"Also, his present activities should not have him openly favouring one or the other side in the Kosovo problem", said the agency. It added that the European chief negotiator would probably have a deputy from the United States.

Up till March 1999, at the beginning of the NATO war against then-Yugoslavia, Petritsch was E.U. special envoy for Kosovo.

In February 1999 he was one of three international mediators - alongside Christopher Hill of the U.S. and Boris Mayorsky of Russia - who took part in Kosovo negotiations in the French town of Rambouillet near Paris. At present he is Austrian ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Geneva.

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