Friday, October 07, 2005

NYT: Annan Urges Talks Soon on Kosovo; Independence Is Option

The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 7 - Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended to the Security Council on Friday that talks begin without delay on the future of Kosovo, with independence for an option.

"The question of independence is on the table, the question of autonomy is on the table," he told reporters in Bern, Switzerland. "We will discuss all that with Belgrade, with Pristina, with neighboring countries and other interested countries."

He said he was acting after receiving a report three days ago from his special envoy to Kosovo, Kai Eide of Norway, on the province's progress in meeting standards of democracy and minority rights.

Mr. Eide's report said progress had been made in establishing civic, judicial and legislative bodies, public services and economic structures. But it said property rights, which it identified as a key element in settling Kosovo's ethnically divided society, "are neither respected nor ensured."

Debilitating ethnic tensions remain high, with the majority ethnic Albanians doing little to reassure minority Serbs, the report said.

"The Kosovo Serbs fear that they will become a decoration to any central-level political institution with little ability to yield tangible results," the report said. "The Kosovo Albanians have done little to dispel it." Kosovo is a province of Serbia now under United Nations supervision.

Nevertheless, the report says, nothing will be gained by putting off decisions any longer. "There will not be any good moment for addressing Kosovo's future status; it will continue to be a highly sensitive political issue," the report says. "Nevertheless, an overall assessment leads to the conclusion that the time has come to commence this process."

Mr. Annan said he would be naming "in a very short time" a new person to lead the coming talks. "What's important," he said, "is that talks begin soon."

The Security Council is to take up the question on Oct. 24, and diplomats predicted that the talks would begin before the end of the year.

Kosovo's United Nations governor, Soren Jessen-Petersen of Denmark, has indicated that negotiations would be conducted on a shuttle basis between Belgrade, the Serbian capital, and Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.

Kosovo has been run by the United Nations and protected by NATO peacekeepers since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign halted Serbia's repression of ethnic Albanians, which followed an uprising by Albanian guerrillas.

Ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's two million people, hope that the discussions will mark the final step toward seceding from Serbia and Montenegro, the union that joins the remaining republics of the former Yugoslavia.

Serbia is adamantly opposed to such an outcome. Half of Kosovo's 100,000 Serbs live in NATO- protected enclaves, and Serbian officials have argued that this is evidence that there have not been sufficient advances in minority rights.

They also point to mass rioting in March 2004, when 50,000 ethnic Albanians took part in a three-day wave of attacks on Serbs and other minorities, resulting in 19 deaths. Four thousand people were driven from their homes.

In Washington, R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said the United States "fully supports" Mr. Annan's decision and would be "centrally involved" in the negotiations. He said Washington would assign an American envoy to follow the discussions and help the two sides resolve the status of the province.

Calling the current political arrangement unsustainable, Mr. Burns said: "The people of the region have a right to know that they have a future and that they can control that future. And whether or not that future is of continued association with Serbia-Montenegro or the future is of independence, that is not a decision for the United Nations or the United States or any of the European countries to make."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tell Nicholas Gvozdev and his Nixon Center to KISS MY ASS!!!

From Department of State he he he

07 October 2005

United States To Focus on Balkan War Crime Fugitives, Kosovo
Iran, Afghanistan also figure in briefing on State's Burns travel to Europe

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The future of Kosovo, war crimes fugitives, Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions and NATO’s role in Afghanistan will be the focus of an upcoming trip to Europe by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, a trip that includes stops in Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

The United States intends to make a major diplomatic push on these issues over the next few months, said Burns at a briefing October 7 at the State Department.


On Kosovo, he said the United States agrees with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that final status talks should begin. Burns said he expects Annan to appoint a special envoy soon to oversee the talks, which he hopes will start before the end of 2005.

Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since 1999, when a NATO-led force drove out Serbian forces persecuting the ethnic Albanian majority. A NATO-led peacekeeping mission (KFOR) with 18,000 soldiers currently provides security.

The status quo no longer is sustainable, Burns said. “The people of the region have a right to know that they have a future and that they can control that future,” he said.

The United States will appoint its own special envoy to work in partnership with the U.N. envoy, he said, adding that the United States will be “centrally involved” in these talks, using its influence and exercising leadership, although the United States has no position on the talks’ eventual outcome.

“My trip is meant to prepare the ground for these talks and to try to make progress with the parties on the issues,” he said.


Burns said that during his meetings in Pristina and Belgrade he intends to demand the arrest of the three most prominent indicted war criminals still at large. Until General Ante Gotovina is in The Hague standing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the United States will block any NATO move to normalize relations with Croatia or to bring Croatia into NATO membership, he said. Until General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are captured and turned over to the tribunal, the United States similarly will block any move toward NATO membership for Serbia, he said.

The under secretary added that during his last trip to the region in June the Serb leadership had led him to believe the arrest of Mladic was imminent. The United States was “severely disappointed” that the arrest did not take place prior to July 11, the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres, when 8,000 men and boys were murdered in or near the Bosnian town, allegedly at Mladic’s orders.

“We will have a very tough-minded view of this,” Burns said, adding: “Someone has to stand up for the people, for the families of the victims of 10 years ago, and we cannot forget what happened at Srebrenica. We won't forget it and they will not be coming into NATO until these actions are taken.”

He noted that while the United States resumed foreign assistance to Serbia in June after the Serbian authorities arrested a number of indicted war criminals during the first six months of the year, that aid again could be suspended.

“It's a lack of political will on the part of the Belgrade authorities,” he said. “It does not stand to reason that these people cannot be found.”

For additional information on U.S. policy in the region, see Balkans.


In Brussels, Belgium, the first stop of his four-country trip, Burns plans to participate in a special meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters, where Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran will be the major items on the agenda.

He will discuss with his NATO colleagues the future role of the alliance in Afghanistan, with the aim the increasing integration of NATO forces and the U.S.-led coalition force “so that we can have a more seamless and effective military presence in Afghanistan.”

Burns said he also expects Iran’s nuclear program, an issue “at the forefront of our diplomatic agenda,” to figure prominently in the meetings at NATO.

The United States continues to support the “EU-3 process,” Burns said, referring to talks with France, Germany and the United Kingdom from which Iran withdrew in August. Iran should suspend its uranium conversion activities, return to the negotiations with the EU-3 and seek a negotiated settlement, said Burns.

Noting the September 24 vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finding Iran in violation of its nonproliferation obligations and decision by the IAEA board of governors to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council, Burns said, “The solution should be that Iran shall not have access to the nuclear fuel cycle on Iranian territory. No one trusts Iran to have that.” (See related article.)

Given the actions of the new Iranian government the last two months, “we will continue to have a very tough-minded approach to Iran,” he said.


In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burns said a central objective is to encourage police reform.

The 1995 Dayton Accords that brought the civil war in Bosnia to an end left the country with three entities divided along ethno-religious lines, one Serb, one Muslim and one Croatian.

The United States welcomed the passage October 5 of a defense reform law by the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the “most significant step towards Euro-Atlantic integration taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords” because it creates a unified defense establishment. A similarly unified police institution would help Bosnia continue on its way towards a multiethnic future within Europe, he said. (See related article.)

The United States will be inviting some of the Bosnian and other Balkan leaders to Washington in November to commemorate the 1995 Dayton Accords, he said.

A transcript of the briefing is available on the State Department Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: