Koha Ditore on the front page quotes Western sources as saying that former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari is preferred by all relevant international actors for the post of negotiator for Kosovo’s status and this is expected to be made official in mid-September when the Finnish diplomat will reportedly meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Under the subhead The international community is getting ready to start the process of Kosovo’s status, the newspaper notes that Ahtisaari’s appointment would fit the plan mentioned several months ago. According to that plan, should Eide’s report on standards implementation be positive, the UN Security Council will give the green light to the opening of the status process. In the meantime, the UN envoy for status would be tasked with finding the final solution, which would then be approved by the UN Security Council.
Other unnamed international sources reportedly confirmed to the paper that Ahtisaari is a candidate for the post, but they hesitated to refer to the issue as a done deal.
Sources from the EU reportedly confirmed to Koha Ditore that Ahtisaari is the key candidate to be appointed UN special envoy for talks on Kosovo’s final status. However, senior EU officials refused to make official statements on this matter, saying that they don’t want to prejudge the decision of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The same officials said there is agreement within the EU that Ahtisaari would do a good job in this post, that he is experienced and that the EU would gladly cooperate with him. EU is currently cooperating with Ahtisaari who is mediating to solve disagreements in Indonesia.
According to the paper’s diplomatic sources in Brussels, the international community believes that it wouldn’t be good to give the post of status envoy to an official of countries that are permanent members of the UNSC. There are speculations that this was the reason why former EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Chris Patten is out of the game for this post.
‘Annan will most probably decide on someone who is not too linked with the official policy of the Contact Group and UNSC members, because these countries will anyway play a key role in finding a solution for Kosovo and formalising it by the United Nations,’ diplomatic sources told the paper.
The same sources said Ahtisaari undoubtedly has the best chances of leading negotiations on Kosovo’s status. However, EU and NATO sources warned that one should wait for Eide’s report on standards implementation without whose positive’s note there can be no status negotiations.
At the same time, says the paper, independent analysts have positively assessed the news that Ahtisaari could spearhead status talks. ‘This is a good solution. He has tremendous experience with the former Yugoslavia and he knows many of the people involved,’ British analyst Tim Judah told the paper.
Judah also said that Ahtisaari is familiar with the background of the conflict in Kosovo. ‘However, one should not forget that the issue of Kosovo’s status will be an extremely difficult task,’ Judah concluded.