Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Kosovo April CPI Down 0.7% M/M - Table

PRISTINA - The April consumer price index (CPI) of the U.N.-run province of Kosovo was down 0.7% on the month, after rising 1.5% in March, statistics showed on Tuesday.

Consumer prices were down 2.2% on the year in April, after falling 2.0% the previous month, the Kosovo Statistics Office said.

Kosovo Consumer Prices Index (pct change):




NOTE: Kosovo, a province of two million people, is legally part of the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro, which succeeded rump Yugoslavia in 2003. The province was put under United Nations administration after NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 to halt the Serb repression of the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo.

Serbia withdraws international arrest warrant for Milosevic's wife

BELGRADE, May 31 (AFP) -

Serbia has withdrawn an international arrest warrant against Mira Markovic, fugitive wife of former Yugoslav president and war crimes indictee Slobodan Milosevic, a court official said Tuesday.

"The (international) arrest warrant is no longer in force after the defense lawyer has promised that the defendant, Mira Markovic, will appear at the trial scheduled in September," a spokeswoman for Belgrade's district court Ivana Ramic told AFP.

However, the national arrest warrant remains in force and Markovic will be arrested if and when she returns to Serbia-Montenegro, said Ramic.

Markovic could then be released on bail pending the verdict in her trial.

Ramic said that the court had informed the Interpol office in Belgrade that the international arrest warrant against Markovic had been withdrawn.

The arrest warrant was originally issued after Markovic failed to appear in court in April 2004, to face charges of abuse of power.

Serbian prosecutors had also issued an arrest warrant for Markovic, believed to be hiding in Russia with her son, over the August 2000 murder of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolic.

Milosevic has been indicted for ordering the murder, while several members of the special police unit "Red berets" are on trial for organizing and executing his order.

Since June 2002, Milosevic has been in custody at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague where he is standing trial on more than 60 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

UN approves postal code for Kosovo

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, May 31 (Reuters) - The United Nations has approved separate postal codes for Kosovo in a further move that Serbia says is tilting the scales in favour of independence for the ethnic Albanian majority.

Run by the U.N. since NATO forced Serb troops out six years ago, the province already has its own vehicle license plates and customs service. It is awaiting its own international telephone code and is demanding a Kosovo banking code as well.

Rafet Jashari, director of the Kosovo postal company, told a news conference the U.N. mission's legal office had approved Kosovo's membership of the Universal Postal Union, the Bern-based body that regulates international mail exchange between some 190 member countries.

Since the 1998-99 war, Kosovo post has been routed through Switzerland or Albania, often with long delays.

"By getting this code, everything will be sent and returned directly through Kosovo," he said. "It will increase speed and security ... and help economic development."

The U.N. mission has also applied for an international telephone code for Kosovo, and the province's Albanian-dominated institutions are pressing for the formal establishment of a central bank and independent SWIFT code for money transfers.

Serbia's pointman for Kosovo, Nebojsa Covic, complained to the U.N. Security Council last week that such initiatives "create an impression that, internationally, Kosovo ... is a completely separate entity".

Randjel Nojkic, a Kosovo Serb politician and Serbian postal and telecommunications official, told the Beta agency on Tuesday that Serb enclaves in Kosovo would ignore the new Kosovo code and continue to use their Serbian postal codes.

Until its "final status" is decided in U.N. mediated negotiations, possibly by the end of this year, the province of 2 million people formally remains part of Serbia and Montenegro.

Neither side talks about partition but in practice Kosovo is already divided. Most of the 90,000 Serbs who remained after the war continue to use the Serbian dinar, instead of the U.N.-imposed euro. They use schools and clinics that answer to Belgrade in what the U.N. calls an "illegal" parallel system.

Serbia To Launch War Crimes Probe After Argentina Arrest

BELGRADE (AP)--Serbia announced Tuesday it was launching a war crimes investigation into the activities of a Serbian paramilitary officer arrested in Argentina last week.

Bruno Vekaric, spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor's office, said Nebojsa Minic, 40, a former member of a notorious Serb paramilitary group, is suspected of taking part in the execution of civilians in Kosovo during the province's 1998-99 war.

Vekaric said the office has launched an investigation into allegations that Minic participated in the slaying of an ethnic Albanian family in the village of Cuska in western Kosovo in 1999.

The investigation could lead to another one by a war crimes court and possible formal charges against Minic. He isn't wanted by the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Minic was arrested last week by Argentinian authorities in the western city of Mendoza following a tip from the U.S.-based Human Right Watch. Police had followed Minic for three months before the arrest.

Argentinian authorities detained Minic on charges of illegal entry and forged papers. A war crimes investigation in Belgrade would probably lead to an extradition demand by the Serbian authorities.

Minic was identified by a Belgrade-based group, the Humanitarian Law Fund, as a suspect in scores of murders committed by Serb paramilitaries in Kosovo.

According to the group, Minic was known as "Commander Death" in the western Kosovo town of Pec. The organization had said they had reliable evidence that Minic took part in the slayings. The Human Rights Watch apparently had similar information, the group said.

It wasn't clear when Minic fled. Serb forces under former President Slobodan Milosevic cracked down on Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians in 1998-99 to suppress a separatist rebellion.

Thousands of people, mostly ethnic Albanians, were killed in the crackdown. The brutality of the Serb troops prompted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to bomb Serbia for 78 days in 1999 to force Milosevic to pull out his troops from Kosovo and relinquish control to the U.N. and NATO.

Kosovo has since been run by the U.N. and NATO peacekeepers although it remains officially part of Serbia-Montenegro. [ 31-05-05 1121GMT ]

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to appear before your Assembly again. And it is a great pleasure, also, to be back in Ljubljana, barely one year after Slovenia joined the ranks of our Alliance and the European Union, and at a time when it holds the Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE.

Slovenia's spectacular transformation over the past fifteen years cannot be seen in isolation from NATO's own success - both in bringing peace and stability to the wider Balkan region, and transforming from a Cold War alliance into a modern, 21st century security organisation.

NATO remains committed to helping all the countries of South-East Europe to follow in Slovenia's footsteps. We are working closely with Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) in the context of our Membership Action Plan. We are holding out the prospect of enhanced cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro - provided they meet certain conditions, notably full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. And during this critical period for the future of Kosovo we maintain a robust troop presence there, while we continue to engage in the Contact Group and to support the Standards Implementation Process. This is as necessary as ever at a moment where the international community begins to address what lies at the heart of the Kosovo question : the fulfilment of standards, and then possibly Kosovo's status.

But while our commitment to the Balkans endures, NATO has also had to turn its attention to a number of serious challenges beyond this region, and even beyond this continent. Today, we are no longer a "eurocentric" alliance - we can no longer afford to be. Instead of a geographical approach to security, we now take a functional approach - dealing with problems wherever and whenever they emerge, from our anti-terrorist naval operation in the Mediterranean to our training mission in Iraq. That requires a major overhaul of our military capabilities. And it requires a new level of cooperation with other nations and institutions.

Let me give you a quick update on each of these major areas of NATO transformation, turning to our missions in Afghanistan and Iraq first.

In Afghanistan, the expansion of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force into the country's four western provinces is underway.

Planning and force generation for ISAF expansion into the remaining parts of Afghanistan is now beginning, and this will require new commitments from nations. We want to give tangible support to the September parliamentary elections, which will mark the formal ending of the Bonn political process.

The Afghan Government must carry forward the post-Bonn political strategy, but we will want to lend our support. And we must maintain our support for the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration process, as well as for the national counter-narcotics programme. Narcotics production, in a country like Afghanistan, is a complex issue, not least because many Afghans depend on it for their livelihood. But we want to do what we can to help control this problem, especially with the help of our Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

When President Karzai visited NATO Headquarters just a few weeks ago, he made a strong plea for the Alliance to stay with his country after the September elections. I also firmly believe that we must stay the course in Afghanistan, to reinforce the considerable progress that we have helped to achieve over the last few years, and to help out in areas that are critical to Afghanistan's security and that of our own countries. I am pleased that there is broad agreement in the Alliance on this matter.

In Iraq, as well, democracy is slowly taking root, and NATO must do what it can to help the new government assert its authority by providing for greater security. The NATO Training Mission in Iraq is now operational, and I am pleased that all Allies are contributing in at least one of four ways: through in-country training; training outside Iraq; financial contributions; or donations of equipment. Our key operational challenge over the next weeks and months is to expand training beyond the Green Zone in Baghdad, and specifically to help to establish the planned Iraqi Training, Education and Doctrine Centre in Ar Rustamiya. That, as well, will require a strong effort on our part.

Another emerging theatre of activity is Darfur. The Alliance is prepared to respond positively to the request by the African Union for logistical support to its mission in Darfur. Mr. Konare, the Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, met with the North Atlantic Council two weeks ago. I was in Addis Ababa just last week to discuss how NATO can add value to the assistance offered to the African Union by the United Nations, the European Union, as well as by a number of individual nations.

The growing operational requirements that are being made of our Alliance underline the urgency of our military transformation process - which is the second feature of NATO that I wish to briefly highlight. We have made good progress in a number of areas. We have streamlined our military command structure and stood up the NATO Response Force. Allies are also working hard to make their forces meet the usability targets that we agreed upon last year. And we have developed procedures to make it easier for nations to commit capabilities to NATO operations.

Good progress - but, quite frankly, still not good enough. Collectively, in the Alliance, we have very great numbers of combat forces. What we do not have are sufficient support forces and capabilities to permit those combat forces to do their job in areas where there is little host nation support. Levels of defence expenditure, in many cases, are still not sufficient to support the investment in these necessary capabilities. Nor are they sufficient for many nations to properly address the modernisation requirements of their armed forces. And the problem is exacerbated by the costs of current operations that are being borne by defence budgets. Let there be no mistake: until we have the required capabilities, we will simply not be as effective as we need to be in the face of real emergencies. And I hope you will keep making your voices heard when your national defence budgets are discussed.

A third feature of NATO today is our determination to deepen and broaden our partnerships with other nations and organisations. Cooperation with them was essential to our success in bringing peace and stability to the Balkans over the past ten years. Just think of the important contributions non-NATO nations made and are still making to our operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Kosovo. It is even more important now if we want to meet the truly global new threats to our security.

The Alliance has made good progress these last few years in enhancing cooperation with all its EAPC Partners, and especially those in the Caucasus and Central Asia. We have made the new security challenges a major focus of our cooperation. We are helping interested countries to introduce defence reforms and enhance their interoperability with NATO. And just last week we held the first EAPC Security Forum in Sweden, a new initiative to engage NATO and Partner officials and civil society representatives in a free-flowing discussion of the many common challenges before us.

But NATO, and this should also be true for the Euro-Atlantic Partnership embedded in Partnership for Peace, is based on common values. This is why we are deeply disturbed and cannot remain silent in the face of recent events in Uzbekistan. The North Atlantic Council has strongly condemned the reported use of excessive and disproportionate forces and supported the UN's call for an independent international inquiry. I will continue to insist that this inquiry takes place, as does the UN.

We continue, at the same time, to intensify our relations with our special partners, Russia and Ukraine. In Vilnius last month, the Foreign Ministers of NATO and Russia signed a Status of Forces Agreement that will boost our military cooperation. On that occasion, we also had a frank discussion of several issues of common interest, including sensitive topics such as Georgia. And I am confident that same constructive spirit will prevail when I visit Moscow next month.

NATO's relationship with Ukraine has entered a new phase. The new Ukrainian Government has left no doubt about its aspirations for Ukraine to join NATO. We agreed in Vilnius to start an intensified dialogue with Ukraine on these aspirations, while continuing to assist the country with the very challenging defence and other reforms that it still has to implement.

But we are also looking beyond the horizons of the Euro-Atlantic area. We have made good progress in enhancing NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue - in engaging our partners in Northern Africa and the Middle East both in greater dialogue and real, practical security cooperation. We are also building closer relations with countries in the Broader Middle East, and have concluded agreements with Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar in recent months. And we are responding to the greater interest that countries such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand have shown in closer contacts with NATO.

Finally, the Alliance is keen to develop more structured relationships with other international organisations - especially the UN, the OSCE, and the European Union. Our success in the Balkans has shown the potential of our cooperation with the EU in particular. The situation in Darfur, where both NATO and the EU have been asked to assist, underlines that we should be able to coordinate strategically, not just cooperate tactically on an ad-hoc basis.

What we need, above all, is a genuine strategic partnership between NATO and the European Union. The European Union is a genuine security actor, there is no question about it. This is about making the Union a stronger partner, not a counterweight. I believe that is the only way the EU can and should go. And I am convinced our American friends understand and appreciate this. Among Europeans, I have been pleased to see greater realism about the challenges that are involved in playing a sustained, meaningful security role, and greater awareness of what NATO already offers.

I hope - and expect - that this greater realism on both sides of the Atlantic will contribute to a closer NATO-EU relationship. We need a strong partnership that recognises the unique contribution which NATO and the EU each make to the stability and security of this continent. And that will allow them to cooperate much more effectively in all areas of common interest - not just crisis management in the Balkans. I believe that such a strategic partnership is within reach, and I will continue to do my utmost to make it a reality.

You, Ladies and Gentlemen, are Members of Parliament who are both interested and experienced in security and defence matters. That means that you have an important contribution to make in all the different areas of NATO activity that I have just outlined. You understand better than most other people why the Alliance must tackle modern security challenges at their source, even well beyond our traditional area of operations. You also understand why this job requires different military means than those that we employed in the past, and a new level of cooperation between nations and institutions. And I hope that I can continue to count on your support in these various areas - to maintain the Alliance's effectiveness, as well as its credibility.

In order to keep the Alliance strong and credible, it must be used - and seen to be used - not only as an instrument for action, but also as a forum for debate. These have always been the two key functions of NATO, and this Assembly has always been a center of fre-flowing political exchange of ideas. In today's challenging security environment, it is critical that we not only preserve these two functions, but actually reinforce them. And in this respect, as well, I count on your support.

We face new and complex challenges to our security - terrorism, proliferation, "failed states". NATO's work here in Europe is far from being done, but other parts of the world also demand our attention - Central Asia, Northern Africa, the broader Middle East. We must adapt our capabilities, structures and procedures to the changing circumstances. New security players, such as the European Union, are finding their role, and we need to work effectively with them.

It is vital that those challenges are discussed in NATO. That the Allies share views and shape consensus - and that they are ready, if necessary, to take action together. All our capitals will maintain bilateral relationships. It is normal, and indeed desirable, that the European Union' s dialogue with Washington and Ottawa intensifies. But the transatlantic Allies need a structured forum, to continuously discuss the key security issues that they face together. And NATO is that forum.

Of course, we do not want to turn NATO into a debating society. More intense discussion in the NATO Council must be accompanied, and indeed nurtured, by enhanced debate with our parliaments and with our publics, to whom we are ultimately accountable. Extending debate in that way is critical in building the strong strategic consensus that we need to to tackle the great challenges of our age - and shaping NATO's vital contribution to this endeavour.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the years, it has become customary for NATO's Secretary General to address the NATO Parliamentary Asssembly when it meets in plenary session.

I want to assure you that I do not look at this as an obligation. On the contrary. I have been a member of parliament myself not that long ago, and I understand and appreciate your role in defining, resourcing, and explaining NATO policy. As the Alliance continues to adapt to a new and complex security environment - an environment plenty of challenges that demand thorough debate and solid consensus - that role is more important than ever.

Thank you.

1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

Kosovo will be independent by spring 2006 - deputy premier

Text of report by Radio-Television Kosovo TV on 30 May

[Announcer] Kosovo will be independent by spring 2006, Deputy Prime Minister Adem Salihaj told Ilyria University students during an address on Standards and status.

[Reporter Blerta Foniqi] Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Adem Salihaj gave an address to students of the private University of Ilyria on the topic Standard and the Status. He told them that by summer of 2006 Kosovo will be independent. He also told the students that the Standards issue came up suddenly when UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] had no other ideas about how to continue its mission in Kosovo.

However, the Standards were gradually developed, evolved and assumed an important place in every sector of life in Kosovo. The fulfilment of Standards is a whole justification and proof that Kosovo has matured into an independent country.

Source: RTK TV, Pristina, in Albanian 1830 gmt 30 May 05

Kosovo will move forward with "unity and hard work" - UNMIK chief

Text of report by Radio-Television Kosovo TV on 30 May

[Announcer] On his return from the UN Security Council in New York, UNMIK chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen held a press conference at Pristina airport and called on Kosovo Albanians to fulfil the Standards.

[UNMIK chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen] I do not know what to tell you because I think it is already old news. Maybe just to confirm that we had a good meeting at the Security Council. The message was very clear. That is that the secretary general will launch a comprehensive review, that he will appoint a special envoy, probably tomorrow or Wednesday [1 June], to draft the comprehensive review. I think more than ever now the future is almost exclusively in the hands of the authorities, which means the government, the opposition, the municipal authorities and citizens. Everybody knows what needs to be done now over the next two to three months. I also hope that, in the first meeting of the Forum, we can focus specifically on how the authorities - and I underline the "authorities" - can now start concentrating on preparing for the next steps.

[Reporter] Mr Petersen, the French people said No to the European Constitution. How do you think this will reflect on Kosova's path toward the EU?

[Petersen] I do not think Kosovo has to worry about France right now. I think Kosovo really has to focus on implementing further Standards, ensure that the comprehensive review has a positive outcome, so that we can then move on to the next step, which is: discussions on status. I think it is too early to speculate on the consequences of that, and above all, I think that right now it is better that here in Kosovo we focus on our priorities, and these are: a comprehensive review, so that we can move on to status discussions.

[Reporter] Mr Petersen, you once said that September, October, this autumn will be the time for opening the status talks. Do you still stand by that?

[Petersen] I stand by that, but I have to underline again that the outcome of the comprehensive review is not a foregone conclusion. That was made very clear in the Security Council but, since we have until now passed each and every hurdle, and last Friday passed another difficult hurdle, I am confident that there will be further progress, that the authorities will work even harder and, if that is the case with even harder work, then I think that there is a good chance that the outcome will be positive, and then the status discussions will start. But again, I think that it is very important that we now take every step, each step, at a time, and the next step is the next two to three months with the comprehensive review.

[Reporter] Do you think that we still have on board all the political leaders and President Rugova for the Forum?

[Petersen] I certainly hope so because the good news is: last week we started in London, last Monday, and we saw that we have a united Contact Group. We saw again last Friday in the Security Council that members of the Contact Group who are also members of the Security Council spoke very positively about the way forward. It would be a great pity if we did not have a united political establishment here in Kosovo, because with unity it would be possible to move forwards. If there is any kind of division here, progress might be questioned. I am confident that everybody now understands what is at stake, everybody understands that with unity and hard work, Kosovo will move forward.

[Reporter] Are Serbs part of the Forum, are they on board or not?

[Petersen] Well, the Serbs know what they have to do. The Serbs have to join the democratic institutions and, if they join the democratic institutions, then we have Serb political parties in the Assembly and, since we have invited the political parties, we would then also invite the Serbs. But first they have to join the democratic institutions.

Source: RTK TV, Pristina, in Albanian 1830 gmt 30 May 05

Kosovo gets new zip codes

Pristina (AP):

Kosovo will adopt a set of new zip codes on Tuesday in a bid to speed up postal deliveries which have been slow and arduous in recent years due to a lack of clarity over the U.N.-run provinces status.

Kosovos capital, Pristina, will now use 10000 as its new code instead of the old Yugoslav code of 38000.

The new codes were approved by the U.N. legal office in Kosovo, said Seremb Gjergji, spokesman for Kosovos Post and Telecom.

The officials hope the codes will offer more security and have economic spinoffs, Gjergji said.

Kosovo became a United Nations protectorate in mid-1999 after NATO air strikes forced Serbia to relinquish control.

Editorial: What EU does Kosovo want to integrate in? (Koha Ditore/Zeri)

Koha Ditore carries an editorial on the third page saying that today Kosovars would tell Brussels that ‘no matter what EU will be like in the future, Kosovo will be part of it’.

This might look ironic, but it is very real says the editorial adding that it is easier to foresee the status of Kosovo than the future of the European Union.

In an editorial titled ‘EU, US and the Kosovo status’, Zëri says that now that it seems the chapter of Kosovo status will be opened at an inconvenient time for the European Union, after the downslide caused by the French referendum, the US may well have a leading role in the process of defining Kosovo’s status.

Haradinaj to be temporarily released (Kosova Sot)

Kosova Sot reports on the front page that based on some unofficial information a positive decision on Haradinaj’s temporary release could be taken during a statutory conference planned by the court panel for this week.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Macedonian president say Kosovo "far from meeting necessary standards"

Text of report in English by Macedonian state news agency MIA

Belgrade, 30 May: Kosovo is far from meeting the necessary standards, making the defining of its final status more difficult, Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski says in an interview with Belgrade monthly magazine in English language CorD .

International civil and military presence in Kosovo is needed for longer period of time, Crvenkovski says, adding that for Skopje peace, rule of law and stable institutions in Kosovo are more important than its status.

Preventing the spillover of Kosovo problems to neighbouring countries is even more important, Crvenkovski says.

"Fortunately it has not happened, but we should be extremely cautious. Therefore, I asked the Macedonian Government to introduce reciprocal visa regime and border control, responding to the UNMIK's [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] new measures in this respect," Crvenkovski says, adding that Macedonia must protect itself from the existing criminal groups.

Macedonia approves the model for Belgrade-Pristina-international community talks for finding mutually acceptable solution for Kosovo, Crvenkovski says.

"Macedonia is neither part of the problem nor part of a solution to this last open issue in the region," he says, adding that closing of this matter must not lead to new destabilization of the region.

"In that respect, the completion of a demarcation of our border with Serbia-Montenegro, on the Kosovo part, before defining of the province's final status is Macedonia's priority," Crvenkovski says.

Source: MIA news agency, Skopje, in English 1416 gmt 30 May 05

Macedonian Foreign Ministry rejects media reports on Kosovo border demarcation

Text of report by Skopje-based correspondent Muamer Pajaziti entitled "There is no compromise for demarcation and new border regime" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 30 May

Shkup [Skopje]: The Macedonian Foreign Ministry has rejected reports that it has conveyed a request to the international authorities in Prishtina [Pristina] for the Kosovar party to make concessions and agree on demarcation of the northern border before the final status of Kosova [Kosovo] is resolved, if the implementation of the new visa regime begins.

Foreign Minister Dusko Uzunovski said that there is no talk about such developments, which have been discussed by the media.

"All options on relations and open contests with Kosova remain open, and our established position is that the demarcation of the northern border with Kosova should take place before the final status of this neighbouring country is resolved," he told Koha Ditore. He added that he is not aware that requests such as those unveiled by the media have been presented to UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo].

Similar assessments were made by the UN mission in Prishtina. On this occasion, international officials told Koha Ditore that they have not received any such requests from the Macedonian party.

These reactions came after the Macedonian media, relying on sources within the [foreign] ministry, asserted that Macedonia has requested that UNMIK accept the solution for the border if it begins implementing the regulations on the new border regime which, according to the Macedonian media, implies a visa regime.

In the meantime, the Macedonian government will continue to insist on, and lobby diplomatically for, resolving the issue of demarcation of the border with Kosova before the talks on the final status of the neighbouring country begin.

In this regard, NATO and EU officials suggested last month that Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski should temporarily "forget" the border issue which, according to them, is very sensitive and could complicate the situation before the talks on the final status of Kosova.

In a statement on this issue, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn left open the possibility for a solution to be found at a later stage.

However, the official position of the Macedonian government remains unchanged as far as resolving this dispute is concerned. "The Macedonian government has not changed its position on major issues, such as demarcation of the border with Kosova. We believe that this issue is important and must be resolved before the talks on Kosova's final status begin," government spokesperson Saso Colakovski told Koha Ditore.

Over the past few months, Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski undertook a diplomatic offensive to convince the international community and the neighbouring states that this sensitive issue should be resolved. Buckovski took the view that resolution of the border issue is primary for the country, because it will influence the talks about affiliation to NATO and the EU. The governments of Albania and Serbia-Montenegro also supported these objectives of the Macedonian prime minister.

UNMIK's position is already clear - the border should not be resolved now, because definition of the final status should be awaited and the international administration has no mandate for this issue. "We have said that the border should be resolved before the final status is defined, but right now this is impossible," UNMIK spokespersons have said.

Oleg Levitin, UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] media representative in Shkup, has denied reports that a solution to the border dispute must be found before Kosova's final status is defined. According to him, UNMIK has no mandate to discuss this issue.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 30 May 05 p 3

Deadlock over Serb war suspect

© Copyright 2005. The Observer. All rights reserved.

AN alleged Serbian war criminal who went under the name of 'Mrtvi' (Death) during the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo has been arrested, Interpol confirmed yesterday.

Media reports have linked Nebojsa Minic, 40, to crimes against ethnic Albanians in the city of Pec, where he led a paramilitary squad that reportedly raped, killed and looted its victims, including children, as Nato bombers attacked Serbia in the spring of 1999. His alleged crimes have also been documented by Human Rights Watch, which has been campaigning since 1999 for him to stand trial in Serbia.

Held two weeks ago in Mendoza on charges of carrying fake documents under the alias of Vlada Radiojevic, he is being held in expectation of an extradition request from Serbia, although this may be slow in coming.

'We have no warrant pending for his arrest,' said Argentina's Interpol chief, Luis Fuensalida. 'The only charge against him concerns the fake alias he was living under. We know he has a criminal record in Belgrade for drug and arms trafficking, but there is no request for his capture related to this or on charges of crimes against humanity.'

Minic arrived in Argentina from Chile in September 2003. Since his arrest, he has been in hospital under armed guard, said to be suffering from cancer and undergoing treatment for an Aids-related condition, but he could be released if an extradition order does not arrive. 'There is no reason to keep holding him,' said his lawyer, Alejandra Ruiz. 'I expect him to be released under house arrest.'

According to press reports, Minic was turned in by an Argentinian lover furious at having contracted HIV from the fugitive. 'This woman had been harassing my client with death threats before she revealed his presence to the police,' Ruiz said.

The heavily tattooed Minic at first claimed his name was Vlada Radiojevic. But police sources said that he later confessed to one of his captors: 'I was a much tougher policeman than you are.'

In Kosovo, Minic sported a tattoo on his chest with the Serbian words for 'dead' and 'dead man', but has had it erased, according to sources in Mendoza.

His history as a gangster back to his teenage years, but his name first turned up associated to war crimes during the mass killings in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995, where Bosnian Serb soldiers murdered more than 7,000 men and boys. Media reports state that Minic was seen escorting truckloads of civilians to mass execution sites.

But the accusation against him by Human Rights Watch involves the killing of the family of a Kosovar Albanian butcher from Pec named Isa Bala in June 1999.

'We are the men with no names. We're probably going to die ourselves, but first we are going to have our fun,' Minic is said to have told Bala, demanding a large sum of money in exchange for sparing his family. Bala handed over his life's savings, but Minic's men murdered four of his children, his niece and his sister-in-law.

The team that decides (Express)

Express reports that the United Nations will lead negotiations on Kosovo’s final status, but adds the organisation hasn’t made yet the necessary preparations for this process. The paper quotes UN officials as saying that the likeliest version is to appoint a Special Envoy of the Secretary General who would then appoint his team. An agreement has been reached that the envoy will be a European, and his team will consist of representatives of the Contact Group.

As far as negotiations on final status are concerned, the paper says that the prevailing opinion in the UN and the Contact Group is that shuttle diplomacy will be used in this case instead of a conference like the one in Dayton or Rambouillet.

The most often mentioned diplomat for the post of envoy for talks is former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari. The paper carries a picture of Ahtisaari riding a bike.

What to expect from Kai Eide’s report on Standards?

Zëri quotes diplomatic sources in Pristina as saying on the front page that Kosovo politicians are wrong if they think that Eide is prone to give a positive mark to Kosovars on Standards implementation.

In his last report after last year’s March riots he had focused on failures of the international community, especially of UNMIK, and had made suggestions for a way out from the stalemate.

This time Eide will entirely focus on results of the local factors in implementing the Standards. It will be a political report and will reflect achievements and failures of Kosovars in accomplishing the detailed Standards Implementation Plan.

Switzerland pro Kosovo’s independence - Koha Ditore

The paper reports that Swiss Ambassador to UN Peter Maurer was clearer than all other speakers during the session of SC in New York. ‘Return of Kosovo under Serb sovereignty is neither desirable nor realistic. Formal independence for Kosovo should be done under strong supervision of international community’, Maurer is quoted as saying.

Government promises to accelerate Standards implementation

Koha Ditore reports on the front page that after the positive signal from the UN Security Council, the Kosovo Government has decided to step up the implementation of standards by not changing its strategy. The paper notes that the government however doesn’t have a plan B in case the assessment of standards is negative.

On the other hand, the opposition believes in the good will of the government but is sceptical of its organisational and managing capacities. The opposition also believes there has been serious delay since the departure of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Luan Krasniqi KO's Lance Whitaker to earn world title shot

28.05.05 – By F.Weber - Boxing.de - Luan Krasniqi passed his most important test and scored the biggest win of his professional boxing career. In front of 5,000 enthusiastic fans at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle of Stuttgart the 34-year-old heavyweight top-contender knocked out American Lance Whitaker in round six with a left cross to the head.

As the contest was declared as an official WBO eliminator, Krasniqi has now earned a world title shot at champion Lamon Brewster, a contest that will take place this year. Universum Box-Promotion already has an eye on the huge Color Line Arena of Hamburg and on September 28 as possible a date and site. September 28 was the birthday of German boxing hero Max Schmeling who passed away this year at age 99.

"I met Schmeling in 2002 and promised him to win the heavyweight world title for Germany", Krasniqi said after his biggest win so far. "Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to accomplish this during his lifetime. Now I hope that I can challenge for the title later this year."

Expectations were high on Krasniqi when he entered the ring in front of his home croud in Stuttgart, a city close to his smaller hometown Rottweil, but he outboxed his ten centimeter taller and 13 kg heavier opponent Whitaker from the beginning and systematically worked out the chance for the knockout punch.

"I fought a very smart fight", Krasniqi said. "I used my feet and reflexes and I quickly moved in and out. I also used my jab all the time and listened to the commands of my coach Torsten Schmitz. Everything worked out well and this makes me so happy. Now I'm ready for the showdown and I want to fight Lamon Brewster for the world title."

"I trained very hard and my team gave me a lot of support. But it just showed that Luan was the better man tonight. I have no excuses", Whitaker admitted honestly.

Krasniqi won for the 28th time in a career that saw him losing only once with another fight resulting in draw. Earlier in his career Krasniqi already avenged his single loss to Przemyslaw Saleta in convincing manner.

His defeat to Krasniqi was the third loss for Lance “Mount” Whitaker who remained on the canvas flat on his back for almost a minute after the German knocked him out.

In the days preceeding the event the athmosphere was tense. Team Whitaker and their highly provocative speaker Steve “Crocodile” Fitch predicted on every possible location that the American would knock out the German in three rounds. At the official weigh-in on the previous day in Stuttgart the tension erupted into a riot on the podium. Krasniqi, however, handled all those psychological gibes very composed.

His upcoming opponent Lamon Brewster won the WBO belt on April 10, 2004, with an unexpected and sensational fifth round knockout over Wladimir Klitschko. Since then he defended his title twice: Against Australian Kali Meehan by a split decision and against Polish Andrew Golota with a first round knockout.

Should Krasniqi manage to defeat Brewster he would become the only heavyweight world champion from Germany beside Max Schmeling (1905 – 2005). The experts will probably give Krasniqi solid chances to succeed.

Kosovo faces renewed war - Tim Judah

Serbs want a new European role but old problems haunt them, reports Tim Judah

Sunday May 29, 2005
The Observer

With all eyes on France and the future of Europe, the fate of Kosovo might seem piffling, but no one is going to die in France as the result of its referendum. As for Kosovo, well, in 1999 we did fight a war over it and yet, when the UN Security Council on Friday gave the green light to a process that could result in its independence - or in another war - nobody noticed.
The council's decision is of momentous importance. The big powers - Britain, the US and France, dragging a reluctant Russia behind them - have decided that, six years after the end of the Kosovo war, the status quo itself has become a threat to stability.

Kosovo - for Serbs, the cradle of their civilisation, home to some of the most important Serbian historic sites - is now a land where more than 90 per cent of the population is ethnic Albanian. Technically it is part of Serbia, but it has been a UN protectorate since the war ended. Kosovo's Albanians desire independence and if Kosovo is forced back to Serbian rule no one doubts they will go back to war.

In March 2004, 19 died and 4,000 Serbs and Roma were 'ethnically cleansed' when Albanians rioted. Diplomats and policymakers realised something had to be done. On Friday that work began.

The UN has asked Kosovo to live up to a series of eight standards, including human rights. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, will send a representative to assess the situation and in September, assuming a favourable report, a 'status envoy' will be appointed to discuss the 'final status' of the province.

According to sources this process will last up to nine months and, assuming Serbs and Albanians cannot agree on whether Kosovo should be independent or not, a Security Council solution might be imposed. It might be some form of what is called 'conditional independence'. That is to say, a figure with considerable legal powers, such as those held by Lord Ashdown in Bosnia, might be appointed with reserve powers to, for example, sack politicians deemed to be corrupt.

Here in Belgrade, it seems that the city is out enjoying the summer sun. For years, Serbs have wanted nothing less than for their country to be a normal part of Europe again. And things have been going their way. Last weekend the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development held its annual meeting here, and this weekend Serbia is holding its first Erotic Fair.

But Kosovo haunts them. On Friday Serbia handed over to Kosovo the remains of 64 Albanians, along with those of 709 others, in the Batajnica Ministry of Interior base, near Belgrade, where they were buried by the Milosevic regime during the war.

Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian Prime Minister, and President Boris Tadic both say Kosovo is Serbian land and cannot have independence, only 'more than autonomy'. At first glance you might suspect that these were gambits in the negotiations. But they are not. Both men genuinely believe that Kosovo's two million Albanians can be persuaded by the international community to give up their dream of independence. But this is a fantasy and it is unlikely Russia will come to their rescue.

Serbians warn that, if Kosovo is given independence against their will, then extreme nationalists will come to power and plunge the region into chaos.

But Kosovo Albanians say the same. Without independence, they say, the radicals will begin an intifada, 'cleanse' the remaining Serb population and spread war into Serbia and Macedonia.

There is no easy answer for Kosovo. But one thing is sure. If nothing is done, the violence will be back and then British, French, Italian and US troops stationed there will come into the firing line and the UN mission could collapse.

Supporters of the European constitution remind us that the EU was born to end war. Across Kosovo, which has little prospect of entering the EU until at least 2014, they already use the euro and the European flag flies everywhere. They believe in it. Let's hope they're not wrong.

Krasniqi KOs Whitaker!

Saturday, May 28 2005

Former European champ Luan Krasniqi comprehensively outboxed Lance 'Mount' Whitaker and eventually stopped him in round six moments ago to become the mandatory challenger to WBO heavy champ Lamon Brewster. Whitaker was down after a straight right hand to the chin and was not able to beat the count. More details to follow.

Serbia-Montenegro's president praises "balanced" U.N. debate on Kosovo

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Serbia-Montenengro's president on Saturday praised what he termed a "balanced" debate at the U.N. Security Council on the situation in Kosovo.

Svetozar Marovic said he was "pleased" the Serbia-Montenegro delegation at Friday's session insisted that Kosovo remain part of Serbia.

"I am especially pleased that the Serbia-Montenegro delegation stressed ... that sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia-Montenegro must be respected," Marovic said in a statement.

Belgrade officials insist that Kosovo, which has been an international protectorate for more than five years, must remain part of Serbia despite an overwhelming pro-independence drive by its ethnic Albanian majority.

The United Nations has run Kosovo since 1999, when a NATO air war ended a Serb crackdown against separatist ethnic Albanians and forced Belgrade to relinquish control over its southern territory.

The Friday Security Council debate was designed to review the situation in Kosovo ahead of possible talks later this year on the province's final status.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the council Thursday that the United Nations will review Kosovo's progress toward achieving standards for democracy this summer, a key first step to the status discussion.

The U.N. administrator of Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen, said at the Security Council session that substantial progress has been made in developing tolerance and democracy in Kosovo. Serbian officials, however, claimed that Kosovo's human rights record remains poor.

More than 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have fled Kosovo since Belgrade lost control over the province in 1999. Those who stayed behind lack freedom of movement and face harassment by extremist ethnic Albanians, Serbian officials allege.

Lord of Standards (Express/Koha Ditore)

‘The 20 months of Kosovo are in his hands. The months of standards. If he says yes, talks on Kosovo’s final status will start in autumn this year’. This is how Express daily newspaper refers to Norwegian Ambassador to NATO Kai Eide, who according to the paper on Tuesday will be appointed special envoy for the comprehensive review of standards implementation.

The paper quotes a spokesman of the United Nations as saying that the appointment of the special envoy is expected to happen on Tuesday.

‘I don’t know if I will be the man to assess the standards. I have heard about this, but I cannot comment on it,’ Eide told Express on Friday.

The paper notes that Kosovans have good experience with Eide’s reports, because his report in August 2004 resulted in a different approach by the UN in Kosovo.

Koha Ditore quotes an unnamed senior NATO official as saying that USG Annan will appoint Eide to the post.

According to Express, the United Nations will also appoint another envoy for negotiations. ‘I can tell you that the person who will assess the standards will not be the one that will lead status negotiations,’ said UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen. UN officials, the paper says, admit that one of the likeliest candidates to get this post is former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari.

Friday, May 27, 2005

UN and Serbian Representatives Clash Over Report on Kosovo

Disagreement surfaced Friday in advance of Kosovo's progress in moving toward a stable, multi-ethnic society as a condition for determining the province's final political status.

The head of the U.N. Mission to Kosovo, Soeren Jessen-Petersen offered positive signs of increased dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on energy, missing persons and transportation issues. He said Kosovo has taken major steps to improve life for ethnic minorities, including new judges representing minority communities and he noted increased trust in the police and more freedom of movement.

But he said Kosovo's majority Albanians must show the same respect for minorities that European states accord minorities. And he said Belgrade must encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the process to ensure that their rights are protected.

"I think there was a clear message here: continue your good work, continue your hard work. If you work even harder, you will get there. But now it is very much in the hands of the Kosovo Albanians. They know what they have to do. The agenda is clear and I must say I count on the Kosovo leaders to do that and I count on the Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade to make sure that the Kosovo Serbs will be part of that process. That is very important," he said.

The United Nations has established a checklist of eight norms of democratic society which Kosovo must meet before any discussions on the province's final status.

The head of Belgrade's Kosovo Coordination Center, Nebojosa Covic, said Serbia and Montenegro support the comprehensive review Secretary-General Kofi Annan has initiated because it will show a far different reality than the one presented in Mr. Jesson-Peterson's report.

"Serbs are not against participation, but please do not ask them to participate in something which is not based on basic principle, an unprincipled approach that leads to the independence of Kosovo. Once they become free of fear and frustrations they are experiencing, for them it will be much easier and for Belgrade authorities to encourage them toward participation," he said.

Mr. Covic said an independent Kosovo is not a sustainable or democratic option and would destabilize the region.

U.N. will review Kosovo's progress on democracy and multiethnicity this summer

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Kosovo's U.N. administrator told the U.N. Security Council Friday that resolving the future status of the province will benefit its economy and lead to greater freedom of movement and progress on the return of minority Serbs.

Soren Jessen-Petersen said it is vital that Kosovo be integrated into the European Union and that resolving its status will also have "real regional benefits."

Kosovo is legally part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia. But it has been under U.N. and NATO control since a 78-day NATO-led air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999. It is governed by a Security Council resolution which leaves its political status undetermined.

The ethnic Albanian majority wants independence for Kosovo, while the Serb minority seeks to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro.

In a report to the council Thursday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the United Nations will review Kosovo's progress toward achieving standards for democracy and multiethnicity this summer, a key first step to a possible discussion of its future status.

He welcomed the "concrete steps forward" in achieving the standards but stressed that none of the standards has been achieved and warned that the outcome of the review "is not a foregone conclusion."

International officials have conditioned talks on the province's future status with progress on eight standards including establishing functioning democratic institutions, protecting minorities, promoting economic development, and ensuring rule of law, freedom of movement and property rights.

Jessen-Petersen told the council that "according to realistic and fact-based criteria, Kosovo has seen steady further improvement" on meeting the standards in the past three months.

"We are pursuing the shortcomings on a daily basis," he said.

The pace of further progress, he said, depends on the willingness of the ethnic Albanian majority "to continue to make efforts to create a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo."

"This willingness does exist, despite the recent, painful conflict, and we must and will continue to support those who display it," Jessen-Petersen said.

Progress also depends on the degree of participation of minority Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo's government, he said.

Jessen-Petersen again urged the government of Serbia-Montenegro in Belgrade to support their participation.

"I am concerned that there is still -- after more than 15 months -- no clear signal from Belgrade to the Kosovo Serbs to participate in the institutions," he said. "Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, although welcome and important, cannot substitute for the direct involvement of the Kosovo Servs in shaping their own future in an internal dialogue in Kosovo."

Resolving Kosovo's status will also have a positive impact, Jessen-Petersen said.

"With a resolution to the status issue, and therefore an end to the uncertainty, I am confident that we will see much more significant results on issues such as returns, freedom of movement and the economy," he said. "Status resolution will also have real regional benefits, including for regional dialogue and trade."

SRSG address to the United Nations Security Council

PRISTINA_ SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen has just finished addressing the UN Security Council at the start of the UNSC’s session on Kosovo at UN Headquarters in New York. This is the text of his address:

“ Mr President,

Let me begin by congratulating you as the President of the Council. You will appreciate my particular pleasure in seeing Denmark in the chair. I also want to thank you personally for honouring us with your presence today.

The three month period since my last appearance before the Security Council has been a challenging one. The progress made – and let there be no doubt that there has been progress – must be seen in the context of the challenges that Kosovo has faced.

In particular, March 2005 saw some very difficult moments. The Government formed in December 2004 made good progress through its first 100 days, and the momentum was considerable. However, in early March, a few days after my last report to this Council, that Government came to an end when Prime Minister Haradinaj resigned following notification of an imminent indictment from the ICTY. Within 24 hours following his indictment and after appealing for calm and for a continuation of progress in building a democratic society, Mr Haradinaj proceeded voluntarily to The Hague.

During those days, Kosovo showed the region and the world a commendable respect for the judicial process. Democracy was respected, and a new Government – continuing the coalition of the two parties, LDK and AAK, and under the leadership of Bajram Kosumi as Prime Minister– was formed within three weeks. Throughout those difficult days and weeks, the political leaders and citizens of Kosovo managed a highly unusual situation with maturity and without any disorder or instability.

In particular, standards implementation stayed on track. The brief delay around the time of the formation of the Government was quickly overcome. The new Government showed the same commitment to moving forward on standards and made continued progress on its programme during the months of April and May.

As in most new democracies – and let us remember that democracy in Kosovo is only a few years old – there is political tension. For the first time in its recent history, Kosovo has a strong opposition, under the leadership of Hashim Thaci and Veton Surroi, which, as everywhere, is critical of the work of the Government, while in agreement on the overall goals for Kosovo.

In order to manage any tensions more constructively, and in view of the critical period ahead for Kosovo and the significant political issues coming up, I decided to propose bringing political party leaders and the President of Kosovo together in a ‘Forum’. The purpose of this Forum is to enhance constructive dialogue and ensure maximum possible consensus on critical and crucial issues, without substituting for constitutional fora. My proposal has met with agreement and I will convene the first meeting of the Kosovo Forum next week.

Mr President,

I am glad to report some positive developments on dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. The first meetings of Direct Dialogue since March 2004 resumed one year later, beginning with the Working Group on Missing Persons on the 16th March. This was followed by meetings in April and May on the key issues of Energy and Returns of Displaced Persons. These Working Group meetings will take place on a regular basis in Belgrade and Pristina and are supported by intermediate technical meetings to work on substantive issues. This dialogue not only serves to make progress on the specific issues, which range from humanitarian to economic, but it is an important sign of building confidence – crucial as we move closer towards status discussions.

We need to continue encouraging political dialogue. I welcome the fact that Pristina and Belgrade have now expressed their readiness to engage in high-level political dialogue. It is vital that political leaders begin to talk with each other sooner rather than later. Pristina and Belgrade have every mutual interest in co-existing and interacting peacefully and constructively.

Over the past months, we have witnessed greater engagement and dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Church and the PISG signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 25 March to allow for the reconstruction of Serbian Orthodox religious sites; this followed a lengthy delay due to talks within the Church on how to proceed. The PISG had already allocated 4.2 million euros last year, and is now actively considering to earmark an additional 1.5 million for reconstruction of Serbian Orthodox religious sites that were damaged during March 2004 violence.

It is obvious that long term preservation of cultural heritage in Kosovo (which includes Serbian Orthodox, Ottoman/Islamic, Catholic and vernacular sites) must be an increasing priority in the coming months. In this context I would like to mention the successful International Donors Conference for the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage of all communities in Kosovo, held two weeks ago in UNESCO in Paris with the support of that organisation, the EU, the Council of Europe, and others. Participants at the meeting pledged some 10 million euros and technical assistance in a clear expression of support for the cultural heritage in Kosovo. A technical mission to restore a church in Prizren, supported by UNESCO, took place just a few weeks ago, and more will now follow.

However, the news is not all good. Despite recent encouraging developments on dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, I am concerned that there is still – after more than 15 months –no clear signal from Belgrade to the Kosovo Serbs to participate in the institutions. Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, although welcome and important, cannot substitute for the direct involvement of the Kosovo Serbs in shaping their own future in an internal dialogue in Kosovo.

Progress in Kosovo will continue, even without the meaningful participation of the Kosovo Serbs, but progress in establishing a fully multi-ethnic Kosovo and integrating all communities will remain limited as long as one ethnic group is pressured to stay outside the political, economic, and social processes. The fault for this obstacle towards progress does not lie in Pristina. The victims, however, are the Kosovo Serbs who are eager to participate at this crucial moment of time. Those who oppose progress can always find some reason to defer allowing participation, but the recent trends have proven that bolder engagement can actually foster real progress for the benefit of all. Belgrade, in my view, would help the Kosovo Serb community, and itself, by moving from reticence and delay to commitment and engagement.

Mr President,

Standards remains the roadmap for the short term but also for the long term. It is a way of building and strengthening democracy and a multi-ethnic society, and also a way for Kosovo to move progressively towards EU integration.

We have seen a continued strong commitment by the PISG during the reporting period. The structures working on standards implementation have shown themselves to be solid and durable. While we recognise that there is still much to do, the trends in a number of areas have been positive, and this is reflected in my technical assessment annexed to the SG report before the Council. We feel that the authorities, and increasingly the citizens, have understood the need to implement standards, and have made efforts to reach out to the minorities.

Mr President, let me say a few words on some specific issues.

Decentralisation, or local government reform, is not a standard as such, but it is an important process. Decentralisation will benefit the population as a whole, as it will bring services closer to the citizens, and it will also help to meet minority concerns.

After some hesitation following its formation, the Government has acted. A Steering Board and five Working Groups have been established and are convening, including two held this week on legislation and on pilot projects, which are to be established shortly. The Kosovo Serbs were invited to, and did participate in these meetings, thus having the opportunity to shape the process. I would also add that Belgrade was invited to join the Kosovo Serb delegation and that we were of course flexible on the modalities, but again failed to do so. Regrettably, the post of Deputy Minister for Local Government Administration, reserved for a Kosovo Serb, still remains vacant. As we push for further progress on decentralisation, I believe that the recent Contact Group agreement on the principle of ‘no partition’ of Kosovo does send a clear signal that the majority community has no reason to fear that meaningful decentralisation would be a cover for division. On the contrary, if well conceived and implemented, it should eventually promote co-existence around the efficient sharing of local capacities and resources.

I would add that we are currently looking at a number of initiatives that could be carried out prior to full-scale decentralisation and that could empower municipalities, for example in the field of policing and administration of justice.

Mr President,

Security has further improved and this is key, as it is a basis for progress in all areas. I want again to pay tribute to the Commander of KFOR and his forces, whose excellent work and close co-ordination with UNMIK and KPS is playing a key role in maintaining a safe and secure environment. The environment has indeed been generally calm during the reporting period, with only a few incidents of note. In particular, very little occurred in the way of inter-ethnic incidents. Unfortunately, the Commander of KFOR and I are concerned, and we have repeatedly said so, that – partly due to deliberate misinformation – perception of security remains a problem and leads to mainly self-imposed limits on freedom of movement. There is a tendency in some media to generalise and to misrepresent every incident involving Kosovo Serbs. Before the police investigation has even begun, some journalists – and some politicians – already pronounce an event as being ethnically motivated, thus feeding the fears of the Kosovo Serb community, including IDPs. In most cases we find, after professional and thorough investigations, that such assertions have no foundations.

There are also assertions that perpetrators are not sentenced – this is simply also misinformation. As a recent example, six Kosovo Albanians were found guilty of murder of two Kosovo Serbs in March 2004, and sentenced to a total of 38 years just last week by the Gjilan/Gnjilane Disrict Court. It is also worth noting that Serbian cabinet ministers, in recent meetings with senior UNMIK officials, have indicated that trust in the KPS on the part of the Kosovo Serb population has indeed increased. The KPS, as you may be aware, has a minority component of about 16%, and Kosovo Serbs make up about 10% of KPS numbers. I might add another example of progress: of 29 lay judges sworn in at the end of April, 16 were minority community members, of which 13 were Kosovo Serbs.

There are signs, and also evidence, of increased freedom of movement by Kosovo Serbs, although there are still too many who do not feel free to move. As a sign of the improving environment, there has been a reduction of escorts and of military and police presence at specific sites or locations. As a most recent example, at the beginning of this month, the first Serbian play since the end of the conflict was held at Kosovo’s main theatre in Pristina, and was prepared and performed by Serbs with large Serb attendance.

The number of returns is still disappointingly low. PISG, UNMIK, and UNHCR continue to work hard on improving conditions for returns, so that displaced persons can return to Kosovo if they so choose. I have recently met with IDPs in Serbia and returnees in Kosovo, and can report to you, Mr President, that their main concern is not primarily security; rather, they are concerned by property issues and by the lack of economic prospects.

There has been some qualitative progress in returns, as for example the first urban returns to Klina. My visits to returnees in several areas, including Bablyak and Brestovik, have convinced me that conditions are present to allow tomorrow’s returns to take place, and that positive encouragement by responsible politicians, both in Pristina and in Belgrade, can convince more displaced persons to return to Kosovo.

There have been increased efforts on the part of the Kosovo Government on returns. This includes personal appeals by the Prime Minister to potential returnees, and visits to Podgorica and to Skopje by the Minister of Returns – himself a Serb – and the Minister of Local Government Administration. These visits have resulted in better understanding and improved regional co-operation, as well as agreements with regional partners, as for example a recent Protocol on returns with Montenegro.

The Working Group on Returns, held on 12 May between Pristina and Belgrade under the chairmanship of UNHCR, was a successful first meeting and will continue. In a very positive development, the respective heads of delegations from Pristina and Belgrade met in Pristina to discuss issues of substance in a productive bilateral working meeting.

As regards functioning democratic institutions, I can report that the rapid formation of the new Government in March showed continued evidence of a stable political situation. The Assembly of Kosovo has lately shown itself to be a more transparent and democratic place for debate according to the established rules; the recent debate, 5-6 days ago, on decentralisation was a step forward. I and colleagues from the OSCE will continue to provide assistance and advice to the Assembly Presidency to ensure that this key institution functions democratically, as I trust it will.

We are rigorously stressing the need for local ownership, and the policy of transfer of competences to the PISG has continued. We are at this point carefully looking at transfer in police and justice areas, where we can transfer competencies short of sovereignty in order to ensure that the local authorities assume maximum responsibility and accountability, also in the area of security.

Mr President

We have continued to support the PISG’s efforts to co-ordinate and strengthen institutional capacity building. The PM has given full political backing to a PISG initiative, supported by UNMIK and the international community, to draw up a strategic plan in order to guide assistance and help focus on priorities. It is expected that the strategic plan will be developed by the summer and will serve as a basis for better targeting and co-ordinating donor efforts so that we can build up the institutions that Kosovoso needs. It is clear that considerable donor assistance will be necessary in a number of sectors over the next months and years.

On accountability, the policy we developed has served as an incitement to the PISG to address accountability problems and take corrective measures where necessary. UNMIK is prepared to take action if and when appropriate, but counts on the PISG to assume its responsibilities directly.

Mr President,

There have been some significant developments on economic issues which have helped to improve the investment climate somewhat, including in the area of privatisation, access to loans from the European Investment Bank, and long-term lease possibilities for investors.

However, it must be stressed that the extremely problematic economic conditions could at any moment lead to social instability – as they would in any society with high unemployment and continued stagnation. In spite of our efforts to make the investment climate more attractive and to stimulate the economy, it is clear that there will be no real overall progress until the status issue is resolved.

In conclusion, Mr President, let me stress again that according to realistic and fact-based criteria, Kosovo has seen steady further improvement during the reporting period. At the same time, the PISG knows that much still needs to be done in key standards areas, and we are pursuing the shortcomings on a daily basis.

We must however recognise that the pace of further progress on standards implementation is reliant on several factors. Firstly, it depends on the willingness of the majority community to continu making efforts to create a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo. This willingness does exist, despite the recent, painful conflict, and we must and will continue to support those who display that willingness. Secondly, the degree of Kosovo Serb participation will influence the extent to which their interests are reflected in the ongoing standards implementation; here, as we have urged repeatedly, Belgrade must give a clear, positive signal. Thirdly, status resolution and the ensuing certainty will mean that we can make faster and more substantial progress on a range of issues.

I want to be very frank: with a resolution to the status issue, and therefore an end to the uncertainty, I am confident that we will see much more significant results on issues such as returns, freedom of movement, and the economy.

Status resolution will also have clear regional benefits, including for regional dialogue and trade. There are clearly limits to the results on regional integration that can be achieved without having certainty on status. Leaving it pending will delay regional integration and adversely affect the interests of all – including Belgrade, Podgorica, Skopje, and Tirana. In my meetings with regional partners, the interest in seeing status resolution is strong.

We are all working toward the same ultimate goal: stabilising the region and the pursuit of the EU perspective. European integration is vital for Kosovo and for the region. It will serve, as it has elsewhere, to break down borders and ensure greater prosperity for everybody.

As you will have seen in his report, the Secretary General believes that a comprehensive review of standards should be initiated this summer. That comprehensive review can inter alia draw on existing structures and working groups in Pristina to support its work on reviewing the standards, and all interested parties will no doubt have a chance to make their voice heard.

I am confident that progress will continue in the interest of all communities in Kosovo, based on a forward-looking, constructive and honest approach by all concerned. The role of the Security Council in moving Kosovo from a holding operation to a sustainable and lasting solution is crucial, and I thank you for your support.”

Annan set to name Norway's Eide as Kosovo envoy

BRUSSELS, May 27 (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan will name Norway's ambassador to NATO, Kai Eide, to head a U.N. review aimed at paving the way for a decision on whether Kosovo should remain part of Serbia, a senior NATO diplomat said.

Eide, a Balkans expert and the former U.N. special representative in Bosnia, will be nominated either at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council later on Friday or early next week, said the diplomat, who requested anonymity.

The United Nations, which has administered the province of 2 million people since the Balkan wars of the 1990s, has set out a list of standards on human rights, security, law and democracy which Kosovo must show it is trying to meet before the issue of its eventual status can be taken up.

Washington said recently it wants the international community to move faster to resolve Kosovo's status. Kosovo's 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority demands independence while Belgrade insists the province remain a part of Serbia.

Annan is expected to tell the Security Council the review should be launched within months despite his misgivings over the pace of progress achieved by Kosovo leaders.

If Eide's review concludes that Kosovo is doing enough to try to meet the U.N. standards, a further round of diplomacy later this year will aim to determine Kosovo's future status.

Martti Ahtisaari, the Finnish former president who has long been involved in the Balkans, is seen as a front-runner for the post of "status envoy" to head those efforts.

The United Nations has governed Kosovo since 1999 after a NATO bombing campaign to halt Serb repression of its ethnic Albanians. Tens of thousands of Serbs fled the province to escape Albanians bent on revenge for Belgrade's harsh rule.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

State's English Outlines for Congress U.S. Policy on Kosovo

Human rights remain priority, director for South Central European Affairs says
By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- In the coming months, a process might be launched to determine Kosovo’s future status. In this new phase, the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms would remain at the forefront of U.S. policy, the State Department’s Charles English told a congressional hearing May 25.

English, the director for South Central European affairs at the State Department, was testifying at a hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission on the future of human rights in Kosovo.

“We cannot achieve a lasting settlement in Kosovo until structures, institutions and habits that protect the rights and liberties of all of the people of Kosovo are in place,” he told the commission, which has held numerous hearings on the situation in Kosovo since the 1990s. “Principles of democracy and multi-ethnicity -- the cornerstones of our overall Balkans policy for over a decade -- will continue to guide us.”

English referred repeatedly in his remarks to testimony given May 18 by Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns before the House Committee on International Relations. Burns said the Bush administration believes that 2005 is a “year of decision” for Kosovo. He described a process whereby the United Nations would this summer launch a comprehensive review of Kosovo's progress in achieving certain basic human-rights and democratization benchmarks. If that review is positive, a process to determine Kosovo's future status will then be launched. (See related article.)

Burns spoke more broadly about the Balkans in a major policy speech on May 19, citing the effort by the United States, the United Nations and partners in Europe to launch a process to determine the future status of Kosovo as well as to encourage political and economic reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to bring war crimes indictees before the Hague tribunal. (See related article.)

English told the Helsinki Commission that the human rights challenges in Kosovo remain significant. Minority communities in particular “continue to face extraordinary obstacles to creating a sustainable life for themselves,” he said, citing such problems as discrimination, harassment, uneven access to public services, limited freedom of movement, and fears for personal safety.

The violence that erupted in March 2004 showed how much work Kosovo needs to do to develop into a free and pluralistic society, English said. “The primary responsibility for this lies with Kosovo's majority Albanian community,” he said. “Until that community adequately protects and guarantees the rights of its minority communities, the pace of Kosovo's Euro-Atlantic integration will suffer.”

English assured the commission that, even though many details of the process to determine Kosovo's future political status remain to be elaborated, “[W]e have already said that the protection of human rights must be at the core of any status settlement. We have said that this settlement must be based on multi-ethnicity and respect the rights of all citizens. We also envision effective constitutional guarantees to ensure the protection of minorities, as well as safeguards for the protection of cultural and religious heritage.”

Even after Kosovo's status is resolved, the work to defend human rights and democracy must continue and accelerate, English said, “if Kosovo is to meet the European Union's high standards for membership.

“The people of Kosovo -- minority and majority alike -- must never stop working to ensure that institutions are transparent, that the political culture is inclusive and that laws are just. This ongoing commitment to democracy, based on the rule of law, is the most basic criterion for joining the Euro-Atlantic community and calling oneself a free, just society. The United States will continue to support Kosovo's efforts to achieve this objective.”

Soren Jessen-Petersen, the special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General and head of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo, also testified at the hearing.

The unofficial transcript of Charles English’s statement is available on the U.S. Helsinki Commission Web site.

The U.S. Helsinki Commission, a U.S. government agency, monitors progress on the implementation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

Koffi Annan Report to the U.N. Security Council on Kosovo

See this link for the full report


Progress in Kosovo must be across the board, continuous – Annan

26 May 2005 – Noting concrete progress in Kosovo toward internally-agreed standards in such areas as government reform, the rule of law and minority rights, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report out today, stressed that continuing progress must be made in all priority areas for any future political settlement to proceed.

Mr. Annan's latest report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) contains an assessment of progress measured against the eight agreed-upon standards in the priority areas of democratic institutions, rule of law, freedom of movement, sustainable returns of displaced persons, economic growth, property rights, cultural heritage, inter-community dialogue and a civil emergency response corps.

"All standards are important and the focus on areas of particular importance to Kosovo minorities does not diminish the relevance of any of the eight standards," Mr. Annan says in the report.

Mr. Annan recommends that a comprehensive review of progress against the standards should be initiated this summer, saying that he intends to appoint a Special Envoy to conduct that review in the near future.

He adds that the review – on the basis of which final status talks could be launched – should consist of consultations with the parties and the international community in order to assess the current situation and conditions for possible next steps in the process.

But he also stresses that the review's outcome is not a foregone conclusion. "During and beyond the comprehensive review, Kosovo's political leaders will be expected to pursue and strengthen their efforts to implement the standards, and will continue to be assessed on this basis," he says.

While noting improvements in outreach to minority communities and the smooth transition of government that took place recently, he expressed concern over the slow pace of local government reform, inter-party rancour and violent incidents that may have been related to such problems.

"It is crucial that any threats of violence or intimidation not detract us from our goal," he said. "It is the responsibility of all people in Kosovo to ensure that the work of extremists is not allowed to dictate the future course of Kosovo."

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Kosovo After Haradinaj - The International Crisis Group


Kosovo Albanian society showed welcome maturity in recent months as it reacted calmly to the indictment for war crimes of Prime Minister Haradinaj and the anniversary of the March 2004 riots. However, Kosovo Albanian politics remain fractious and worse. Mutual distrust between the two leading parties, President Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), is distracting politicians from seeking a consensus position for the approaching negotiations on final status. Recent weeks have seen an escalation in tension between them so bitter that it risks spiralling into killings. It is vital that the international community, as it assesses Kosovo's readiness for final status talks, use the next important months to do a great deal more to help build institutions for genuine self-government. Otherwise, Kosovo is likely to return to instability sooner rather than later and again put at risk all that has been invested in building a European future for the Western Balkans.

Even though the international community is beginning to move Kosovo toward some form of independence, the escalation of internal political conflict and the April 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Haradinaj's younger brother show that serious risks of instability remain. Kosovo Albanians' present peace with the international community is highly conditional, resting on renewed optimism about imminent movement on final status and upon some progress in consolidation of a sense of ownership of institutions resulting from the more vigorous and effective government that Haradinaj ran before he was forced to step down and answer charges in The Hague. Most areas are calm, but Haradinaj's home municipality of Decan is a tinderbox, full of angry armed groups, and isolated from the rest of Kosovo. The next security watershed will be the Tribunal's decision whether to grant bail so the former prime minister can return home while awaiting trial.

Forced into opposition by the coalition of Rugova's LDK and Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), the PDK, the main successor of the Kosovo Liberation Army, may prefer to derail the government rather than act responsibly by helping to forge a joint position on final status. Whether its politicians can cooperate over the next months will have far-reaching consequences for Kosovo's ability to function as a state once the current heavy international presence is converted into a lighter monitoring mission. There is a real prospect of a ruinous factionalism similar to that which has developed in Albania.

Kosovo's rival parties have to work consciously to avoid this scenario or they will bear responsibility for the failure to consolidate statehood. The UN Mission (UNMIK) has a responsibility too -- transfer of power and preparation of Kosovo for final status must go beyond a mere letting go of its six-year holding operation. It must use the period leading up to and including negotiations on final status to take the vigorous action necessary to pave the way for genuine self-government. UNMIK has put aside its inertia but appears to be following more of an escape strategy than a state-building strategy. Much of the work being rushed through at present to get a result in the mid-year standards review is of questionable quality, not likely to stand the test of time. Problems that will come back to haunt Kosovo like toleration of widespread corruption and of powerful, unaccountable partisan political intelligence agencies are being swept under the carpet rather than addressed.


Respecting Security:

1. UNMIK should adopt a more credible and open information policy regarding security matters, in particular by moving vigorously to close down the political party intelligence structures about which it has been claiming it has no knowledge.

2. Kosovo's political party leaders should cooperate with police investigations, notably:

(a) President Rugova should respond to police requests to interview him about the 15 March 2005 bomb attack against his motorcade; and

(b) PDK leader Hashim Thaci and General Secretary Jakup Krasniqi should provide evidence and witnesses to substantiate the dossier of accusations against LDK officials they gave to UNMIK.

3. The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should consider granting pre-trial release of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj as a contribution to Kosovo's security and adopting release conditions that permit him to continue delivering constructive messages, such as that delivered at his brother's funeral, that help maintain social peace.

4. UNMIK, the government and civil society should launch joint initiatives in Dukagjini, and Decan municipality in particular, to draw the disaffected home area of former Prime Minister Haradinaj more fully into the mainstream of debate on Kosovo's final status, stem KLA-FARK feuding and support the rule of law.

Respecting Final Status Preparations:

5. The Contact Group (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, UK, and U.S.) and the UN Security Council should convert their demand for Kosovo's provisional government to begin implementation of decentralisation prior to final status talks into a requirement for the political parties to agree on comprehensive decentralisation proposals as part of the final status negotiations.

6. UNMIK and the major diplomatic liaison offices in Pristina must provide the political will, momentum, and resources for Kosovo Albanians to form and utilise a special commission such as the Political Forum proposed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Jessen-Petersen, to develop detailed positions on final status. That commission:

(a) should be run by an able, non-politically aligned Kosovo technocrat, include representatives of each of the main Kosovo political parties, and develop realistic proposals likely both to command political consensus and stand up in status negotiations; and

(b) have its proposals subject to Kosovo Assembly approval.

Respecting Kosovo's Political System:

7. The PDK must accept that it lost the October 2004 election and its priority is now to win the trust of a greater number of voters by working constructively to develop Kosovo's final status agenda and credible alternative government capacity and policies (rather than soliciting a government role from the international community and smearing LDK ministers).

8. Donors and European Union bodies and member states in particular should extend technical assistance to the main opposition parties to enable them to present an informed challenge and alternative proposals across the entire spectrum of government policy, and offer longer term funding to nurture civic activist groups.

9. UNMIK should correct the wayward course of the Assembly to enable it to become Kosovo's main forum for constructive political debate, including by:

(a) the SRSG using his power to dismiss those who obstruct democratic functioning;

(b) reinforcing the Assembly monitoring run by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) pillar of UNMIK and institutionalising a direct link for it to the SRSG's Office; and

(c) setting clear new minimum expectations for the regularity of plenary sessions and observance of procedures by the Assembly leadership.

10. UNMIK should institute much more vigorous and pro-active auditing oversight of both central and municipal government.

11. UNMIK should put reform of the closed list election system on the agenda so as to enable establishment for the next general election of a mixed system of party lists and territorial mandates, or of territorial multi-member constituencies.

Pristina/Brussels, 26 May 2005

Demarcation to be completed before Kosovo status talks - Macedonian premier

of report in English by Macedonian state news agency MIA

Skopje, 26 May: Demarcation of the border between Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro in Kosovo part will be closed before opening province's final status talks, Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski said answering the question of deputy Ilija Srbinovski regarding border demarcation issue at Thursday's [26 May] parliament's session.

"This issue will be closed before the decision on final Kosovo's status, because it is also of interest of Kosovo's provisional government, having in mind that they will be asked not to cause instabilities or problems in the region in solving of province's status", he said.

Buckovski said that in consultations with experts, he was told that UNMIK [UN Interim Administration in Kosovo] had a mandate to participate in demarcation of border between Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro in Kosovo part.

Buckovski also added that if Belgrade and Pristina would find mutually acceptable solution on province's status, it could not cause Macedonia's destabilization.

Source: MIA news agency, Skopje, in English 1222 gmt 26 May 05

Kosovo leader committed to uphold principles of democracy, freedom

Pristina, 25 May: Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi said today that the standards are the basic values and principles of democracy and human freedoms, and that his government is committed to their full implementation.

Kosumi told the media that he has conveyed to the Contact Group [United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy] state members that Kosovo is putting a lot of efforts to build a stable society and democracy, which will be capable to govern on its own.

"We do not deem standards as a table with pluses and minuses, as something that is made today and forgotten tomorrow. The standards represent one of the basic values for democracy and human freedoms," the prime minister said.

While the head of the German office, Jurgen Engel conveyed the message of the Contact Group following the meeting in London on Monday [22 May] that the international community, including Russia, has a united stand on Kosovo.

"We agreed that the so-called comprehensive assessment of standards is very close. We are aware that we have still more to do and we will do it together. The Contact Group has supported the government to achieve a positive evaluation. Of course, the result will not come automatically," Engel said.

He made known that the international community is putting pressure on all sides, including Belgrade, in order to achieve progress in implementation of the standards.

Source: KosovaLive website, Pristina, in English 25 May 05

Diplomatic sources optimistic about Contact Group meeting on Kosovo

Excerpt from report by Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 25 May

Brussels, 24 May: European diplomats, but also those from the United States, said that they are pleased with the atmosphere that prevailed in the recent meeting of the Contact Group, which was held in London on Monday [23 May]. Most of those whom Koha Ditore managed to contact even said that this meeting was more positive than expected. Apparently their satisfaction comes from the fact that at this meeting Russia did not oppose the agenda of events that was presented by other members of the Contact Group. This means that, despite earlier announcements, now Moscow will not insist on postponing the comprehensive review of standards.

According to European diplomatic sources, who spoke to Koha Ditore after the Contact Group meeting, the appointment of Norwegian Ambassador to NATO Kai Eide as special envoy to review the standards is expected soon, perhaps this week. He will work for two months on this review in order to present the final report at the beginning of September, and then the Contact Group will convene at the ministerial level.

Evaluation should be compact

European diplomats told Koha Ditore that they are pleased with the fact that Russia admitted that it is unreasonable to postpone the standards review, because without that review it cannot be known to what extent the standards have been fulfilled. The decision whether or not the debate about the final status of Kosova [Kosovo] should start will be made only after that review. But, as the diplomats asserted, the important thing is that a unanimous position that the process should continue, regardless of whether or not the standards have been fulfilled to the extent that many states would want, dominates now. The same sources said that the standards review, which most probably will be done by Norwegian Ambassador to NATO Kai Eide, who will be appointed to this post by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, will be compact, detailed, concrete, and based on facts.

"It will be much more substantial than UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] Chief Soren Jessen-Petersen's assessments are," a diplomat said.

According to Western sources, it is already known that in his report to the UN Security Council, Jessen-Petersen will say that sufficient progress has been made by the institutions of Kosova to have a comprehensive review of standards. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will also agree to a great extent with such an assessment, although he will mention that they are not completely satisfied with Kosovar leaders. Following a harmonization of positions at the Contact Group's meeting in London, Russia is not expected to request the postponement of the process, because it also received some kind of guarantees that the review will not be done "just for show," but it will be correct and unbiased.

Britain has most favourable position

Although from the media reports in Kosova the impression is created that the United States will postpone the process, while the EU is more sceptical, the recent meeting of the Contact Group, as well as US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns' visit to Brussels, eliminated all the dilemmas about any possible disagreement between the EU and the United States over Kosova.

Although for the time being no country wants to publicly prejudge the result of the process of finding the final status, many diplomats say that Great Britain has the most advanced position and is the most open to accepting independence as an option. In fact, Great Britain is the only state that has stated publicly that it does not rule out independence as an option, a thing that the United States still refuses to say publicly, despite the conviction that prevails in Kosova that the United States has a more favourable position.

The diplomats said that Great Britain has a more advanced position than the United States on this issue, but the positions of these two states are coming closer recently. The diplomats, who wished to remain anonymous, also said that Germany has started moving its position closer to Great Britain's position as far as the future status of Kosova is concerned.

The fact that France and Italy, which are also members of the Contact Group, are not very loud in the debates about the final status does not present a problem to these diplomats, because, according to them, the roles within the Contact Group are also being gradually divided while awaiting the beginning of the process of finding the final status.

In the meantime, Russia is not interested in blocking the process for the time being, but nobody rules out the possibility that it might present various conditions during the process. This, the diplomats admitted, will greatly depend also on the role that will be given to Belgrade in this process, because, in case of Belgrade's consent, there could be no problems with Russia.

In order to be correct towards Russia, European diplomats asserted that Moscow's more realistic approach towards Kosova has been noted recently, an approach that Russia communicated also to Belgrade. European diplomats stated that they are very pleased with the announced US' commitment to Kosova and the Balkans. But some of them did not hide their fear that this commitment aims at accelerating the solutions in order for the United States to be able to withdraw from the Balkans as soon as possible.

"Now the United States mentions the Balkans as a burden and perhaps it wants to free from this burden. We need a joint action with the United States in the Balkans, especially in Kosova, for a longer period. Therefore, it would bother us if the United States would want to accelerate the solution only to withdraw," a European diplomat said. [passage omitted]

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 25 May 05 pp 1-2