Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kosovo effectively independent, Slovene president tells paper

Text of report in English by Slovene news agency STA

Maribor, 12 November: The resolution of the Kosovo issue requires a clear and easy-to-understand solution, which is what my plan is about, President Janez Drnovsek has told a Slovene paper in reference to his nine-point Kosovo status plan.

Defending his plan in an interview published in Saturday's [12 November] Vecer, Drnovsek said that the situation on the ground in Kosovo is that of an independent state.

International forces have been stationed in the province for six years now, but the province is effectively independent, he said, adding that there was no Serb police or army stationed there.

According to him, Serbian claims that Kosovo is still part of Serbia run contrary to the situation on the ground. If Serbian officials think that they bring Kosovo under its control again, it will result in another war, Drnovsek is convinced.

"Serbian politicians have been unable to come clean to the Serbian public," Drnovsek said in a reference to the state of affairs in Kosovo.

Moreover, Drnovsek rejected suggestions coming from Serbia that he has been influenced by the Albanian lobby in drawing up his plan. He said that these allegations are nothing new, as they were tossed around back in 1989, when he first tried to solve the Kosovo issue.

The fact is that 16 years have passed since then and that Serbian politicians have been unable to solve the problem, while the international community has been very slow in acting, Drnovsek told Vecer.

Drnovsek would not confirm or deny claims that Brussels and Washington are behind his plan for Kosovo, saying only that he was in touch with many politicians who wish to see a final solution for Kosovo.

The Slovene president is convinced that negotiations on Kosovo could be wrapped up quickly. "Maybe sooner than in six months if we don't go in circles too much," he said, adding that his plan contains elements for which both sides know will have to be part of a final solution.

Asked about whether his plan will lead to a deterioration in relations between Slovenia and Serbia-Montenegro, Drnovsek said that relations should improve if Serbia gets out of the current routine and starts focusing on its European aspirations.

Meanwhile, Drnovsek said there was a great air of defeatism in the international community in general, with few people willing to come up with solutions to the challenges faced by the world.

"This is one of the reasons why I have started to tackle global issues. Not only Kosovo, which is more of a regional issue; I have also come up with proposals for the EU and WTO and have warned about the current state in the UN," he said.

Source: STA news agency, Ljubljana, in English 1215 gmt 12 Nov 05

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