Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Serbia: To Adopt Platform Rejecting Kosovo Independence

BELGRADE (AP)--The Serbian government said it planned on Tuesday to adopt a platform rejecting independence for Kosovo in U.N.-mediated talks on the future of the breakaway province.

The nine-point resolution, published Tuesday by the local news media, needs the approval of Serbia's parliament, which is tentatively scheduled to meet over the next weekend.

The resolution also leaves open the possibility that a national referendum be held in Serbia to approve the outcome of the talks with independence-seeking Kosovo Albanians, which are likely to start in December and end within a year.

Kosovo, considered by the Serbs to be the cradle of their statehood and religion, has been run by the U.N. since 1999, when North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing halted a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.

Serbia is hoping to retain at least formal control over Kosovo, but the province's ethnic Albanian majority is insisting on full independence.

The Serbian government resolution calls for Kosovo to remain within Serbia's borders, but gives it "essential" political and judicial autonomy.

The U.N. envoy to mediate talks on Kosovo's future, Finland's former President Martii Ahtisaari, was expected to visit Kosovo and Belgrade later this month and move to Vienna in December to start the negotiations.

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