TIRANA (AP)--A group of analysts in Kosovo urged the international community Tuesday to speed up efforts to resolve the province's status, and said independence would be the only peaceful solution.
The province, with an ethnic Albanian majority, has been administered by the U.N. since a 1999 NATO air war drove Serb troops out. Kosovo technically remains part of Serbia, the larger republic within Serbia-Montenegro, but its leaders are pushing for independence. Serbia insists Kosovo should have broad autonomy, but remain within the union's territory.
The Forum 2015 think tank - an alliance of non-governmental organizations in Kosovo - urged U.N., Serb and Kosovo officials not to delay in reaching an agreement on Kosovo's final status. Talks are expected to start later this year, providing the U.N. envoy to the province doesn't recommend a delay.
"The delay of the talks on Kosovo's status would cause problems to the integration of the Balkan countries, and could have different forms of explosion of displeasure in Kosovo," said Muhamedin Kullashi, a professor at Paris 8 University during a round-table conference in neighboring Albania's capital, Tirana.
Forum 2015 advocated independence as the final solution, issuing a report titled "Why independence? Kosovo's status, political challenges and the road toward European integration."
"The international community would not be interested in an artificial union experiment at a time when the existing federation of Serbia and Montenegro is not functioning," Kullashi said.
Within Serbia-Montenegro, the federation that replaced the former Yugoslavia, Montenegrin leaders continue to argue for their own independence, and the two sides are mainly self-governing.
A U.N. special envoy is expected to make a recommendation to Secretary-General Kofi Annan in coming weeks on whether the Kosovo status talks should start. The decision will be based on how much progress Kosovo has made in establishing democracy and guaranteeing the rights and protection of its Serb minority.
Delay in finalizing Kosovo's status would contribute to ethnic tensions that persist within the province, and would frustrate officials who should instead try to tackle social and economic issues, the group said. [ 04-10-05 1516GMT ]