Friday, October 07, 2005

Annan to recommend start of Kosovo talks

BELGRADE/BERNE (Reuters) - U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he would recommend to the Security Council later on Friday that talks on the future status of the disputed Serbian province of Kosovo should begin "very soon".

"Today I will inform the Security Council that I want to open discussions about the status of Kosovo very soon," he told journalists during a visit to the Swiss capital.

In Belgrade, Kosovo's U.N. governor Soren Jessen-Petersen said the talks would be "before the end of the year".

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration, and the protection of NATO's biggest peacekeeping operation, since mid-1999 when Serbian forces were driven out to stop what the West said was their persecution of the ethnic Albanian majority during an uprising by Albanian guerrillas.

Some 10,000 Albanians were killed between 1998 and 1999.

The Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the two million population, demand full independence from Serbia, which says they cannot have it. Diplomats said the major powers are leaning towards a form of "conditional independence" under the supervision of the European Union.

Annan's recommendation will go to the 15-member Security Council, which would then vote on the issue later this month, possibly October 24, according to diplomatic sources.

His recommendation is based on a report by Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide into Kosovo's progress on meeting standards of democracy and minority rights. Serbia says they are far from being met.

Diplomats say the Eide report criticises a lack of progress in improving the lot of 100,000 Kosovo Serbs, half of whom live in NATO-protected enclaves, but will reflect Western concern at prolonging Kosovo's economic and political limbo much longer.


Signalling that Serbia is ready to cry 'foul' if talks are launched by the Security Council later this month, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told the U.N. governor that standards were "a key precondition" for talks, his office said.

Kostunica said Serbs in Kosovo were denied basic human rights such as safety, free movement, the right of the displaced to return to their homes and the protection of their heritage.

"Standards before status" had been the routine reply to Albanian demands for independence until March 2004, when mass rioting swept the country and 19 people were killed in a wave of arson directed against Serbs and other minorities.

Kostunica has said "tacitly abandoning" that rule is simply giving in to the implicit Albanian threat of further violence if the majority does not get its way.

Jessen-Petersen, who has called the current situation is "unsustainable", said the status negotiations would shuttle between Pristina and Belgrade. Diplomatic sources say the final sessions could take place in Vienna.

"Status talks will be very much conducted through shuttle diplomacy by a (United Nations) status envoy," the Danish diplomat said. The most frequently mentioned candidate for the job is former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.

"My job now is to make sure that we stay focussed on the agenda," the U.N. governor said. That would include more local rights for Serbs and preparing for "a post-status Kosovo".

"Because there will come a day ... when, of course, UNMIK (the U.N. mission) will no longer be there, but it must be an orderly transition," Jessen-Petersen said.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said earlier this month that the EU should consider taking over some of the U.N. mission's duties, including law enforcement. But the NATO-led peacekeeping mission KFOR is expected to stay on.

(Additional reporting by Beti Bilandzic in Belgrade and Matthew Robinson in Pristina)


Anonymous said...

October 24 huh? Just enough time to get the CS and batons ready for the 25th, after the Chinese and/or Russians give Kosova the finger on the vote.

And if Kofi Annan reccomends something, you know its probably a baaaaad idea.

Anonymous said...

Serb scumbags read this: "Diplomats said the major powers are leaning towards a form of "conditional independence" under the supervision of the European Union."

Anonymous said...

Which diplomats or major powers are neither quoted, sourced or indicated. :)

KFOR still getting the CS and batons ready for the 25th.

Anonymous said...

Albatros scumbags read this:

Hidden victims of Albania's mafia

By Paul Kirby
BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents

Thousands of young Albanian women have been forced into prostitution abroad in recent years, and the families they have left behind have struggled to cope with the consequences.

Vangjel's wife was duped into thinking she was heading for a better life as a waitress in Italy.
The family had always been poor and they had made ends meet by selling milk from one of their only assets, a cow.

But if she made any money as a prostitute on the streets of Milan there was no sign of it making its way home.

Vangjel thought she was now somewhere in France: "My wife left me because we were poor and because the trafficker knew the tricks.

"He cheated her and said 'I'll find you a good job' and then sent her to become a prostitute."

As I sat in Vangjel's tiny cottage, his elderly mother gently clasped my wrist, demanding my attention.

She spoke in Albanian but the message was clear: "Help my family."

It was as if my visit could somehow help her son and four grandchildren.

Gang violence

The devil did something to this town Berat Mayor Fadil Nasufi

Albania's economy went into freefall in 1997 with the collapse of get-rich-quick pyramid schemes in which two thirds of the population had invested.

Gun-toting rebels took to the streets of towns across the country, and with the anarchy that followed, many were tempted into organised crime, trafficking in particular.

From their home in Berat in southern Albania, Vangjel's wife was easy prey for the traffickers.

In the Berat region alone, it is estimated that more than 1,400 girls and young women have either been abducted or lured into prostitution.

Set in a valley in the Tomorri Hills, Berat is a small historic town dating back more than 2000 years.

Life in the Shadow of the Mafia will be broadcast on Thursday, 6 October, 2005

But when the collapse came in 1997, its cultural background was of little help.
"The devil did something to this town," said Berat Mayor Fadil Nasufi.

He said the gang violence into which the town descended led to a funeral almost every day.

The traffickers are no longer welcome in Berat, he added.

"They're condemned not only by the law but by public opinion. For us they are like terrorists," he said.

Exposed areas

The traffickers look for women in rural areas Josif Shtembari, Vlora Police

One of the main routes exploited by the traffickers was through the coastal port of Vlora to Italy, and then on to other European cities, including London.
The police chief in Vlora, Josif Shtembari, said the criminals are still active.

"The exposed areas are the rural parts of Albania, especially in the centre and east of the country," he said.

"The traffickers look for women in these rural areas that are not as developed as Vlora."

Mr Shtembari believes they have stemmed the tide of boats leaving for Italy from the coast around Vlora.

But the traffickers are now actively involved in other routes -south over the mountains into Greece, or through Tirana airport with the help of forged documents.

The police have also had to deal with allegations of collusion with the traffickers.

In August, a 17-year-old woman who had gone on television to accuse policemen of forcing her into prostitution was stabbed to death in Vlora.

Julia's ordeal

The case merely reinforces the dangers faced by victims of trafficking who never know who to trust.

Julia's ordeal began at the age of 13 when she was abducted as she went to her aunt's house to iron clothes before a wedding.

Julia does not expect she will ever lead a normal life

She was taken to Greece and forced to work the streets for a year and a half before a man risked his life to help her.
Julia eventually made her way home, but like many of the girls who do try to go back to their families, she was rejected because of the stigma of prostitution.

Julia does not expect she will ever lead a normal life.

She sees her future in a women's refuge where she helps other Albanian girls and young women who return home.

One young woman she is working with is 17 years old and from Berat.

"I can help her look out for herself and teach her to be strong," she said.

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 6 October, 2005 at 1102 BST.

The programme will be repeated on Monday, 10 October, at 2030 BST

Anonymous said...

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous said...
Which diplomats or major powers are neither quoted, sourced or indicated. :)

KFOR still getting the CS and batons ready for the 25th.

Hahah, of course, practicing to extinguish any unrest that Serbs will cause in their attempts to affect the talks.

Anonymous said...

To the Serb idiot do you even know what an Albatros is.


Anonymous said...

In your case Albatros is Bird Flu.