Friday, October 07, 2005

U.N. Recommends That Kosovo Talks Go Ahead

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended Friday that talks on Kosovo's future go ahead despite corruption and pervasive ethnic tension, a critical step toward resolving the fate of a province run by the United Nations since NATO's 1999 air war.

Annan's recommendation to the U.N. Security Council was delivered with a report that said enough progress had been made in creating the institutions to make a government work in Kosovo. Europe and the United States must not allow the tiny region to stagnate or fade from international attention, the report said.

"I think we did provide a political momentum and I think it will be very unwise to stop that political momentum," the report's author, Kai Eide of Norway, said in a phone interview from London.

The Security Council was likely to discuss Eide's report when it considers Kosovo on Oct. 24, and talks could start as early as next month, after Annan appoints a special representative to oversee the process.

Kosovo has been run by a U.N. mission -- with a strong NATO peacekeeping presence -- since mid-1999, when a NATO air war forced former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to end a crackdown against rebel ethnic Albanians in the province.

The province has seen continued unrest: In March 2004, thousands of ethnic Albanians attacked Serbs and their property in violence that killed 19 people and injured more than 900.

Diplomats have argued that only a lasting peace will create the political certainty demanded by investors and donors -- the outsiders who can provide the cash needed to restart a hobbled economy and rebuild Kosovo's tattered infrastructure.

"The question of independence has been raised, the question of autonomy has been raised," Annan told reporters in the Swiss capital, Bern. "It is important that the discussion begins soon."

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the State Department's third-ranking official said Kosovo's uncertain political status "is no longer sustainable."

The issue of Kosovo's fate is highly contentious because the province's majority ethnic Albanians want full independence, but the Serb minority insists that Kosovo remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia.

The United Nations had said that for the talks to take place, Kosovo must meet eight benchmarks. They include establishing democratic institutions, protecting minorities, promoting economic development and ensuring the rule of law, freedom of movement and property rights.

Yet tension remains high between ethnic Albanians and Serbs who live in their own enclaves and depend on Serbian government funding for health and education. Political appointments are doled out according to political and ethnic ties, and Serbs have little opportunity, or desire, to participate in the region's government.

Property rights of Serbs who fled after the NATO bombing have been ignored, while corruption is rife.

"Over the past six years, international police, prosecutors and intelligence officials have tried -- but failed -- to go much beyond the surface of the corruption problem," the report said.

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: