The British Foreign Office Political Director John Sawyers, who arrived in Pristina yesterday, told Kosovo Serb political representatives that the Contact Group had decided to grant independence to Kosovo and that the Serb community should look for its position within such status solution. Earlier in the day the British diplomat had conveyed to the Pristina team for the status talks that Kosovo’s independence would depend on whether the province will be democratic and respect the minority rights, explaining that the degree in which the Kosovo Albanians will fulfill their obligations towards the other ethnic communities and demonstrate that Kosovo has become a mature democratic society could also determine the “degree of independence” the province will receive. Sawyers further indicated that the Contact Group had "established parameters for the resolution of the status, which are a multi-ethnic Kosovo, where European standards will be respected, and a Kosovo that will comply with the will of the majority people in Kosovo," all Belgrade electronic media reported.
Talking to Beta news agency upon the meeting held between John Sawyers and Kosovo Serb political representatives, Goran Bogdanovic, a member of the Belgrade negotiating team for the Kosovo status talks, said that the very tense one-hour meeting took place in an “unpleasant” atmosphere and that, while the Serb representatives fiercely dismissed the idea of an independent Kosovo, Sawyers “was persuading us, in a way, that we should accept such a solution, because it would be better for the Kosovo Serbs too.” Bogdanovic insisted that, "for us, an independent Kosovo and Metohija is absolutely inadmissible, because we have felt persecution and torture in our own skin in the province over the past seven years, under the jurisdiction of the international community. We can only imagine what will happen to us if the ethnic Albanians take over complete control when they acquire independence."
Elaborating that, after such a stand, Belgrade should think well as to whether there is any point in taking part in the Kosovo status talks, he warned that this could also be "a provocation or trap" by the international community, aimed at excluding the Serbs from the talks, even before they are launched, so that it can impose a unilateral solution for Kosovo.
Speaking to Tanjug news agency, Bogdanovic said he was “surprised with this stand, because the Contact Group members, whose members are also John Sawyers and US representatives, had earlier announced that all options are in the game in view of the Kosovo status,” adding that, “if now the Contact Group’s stand is for Kosovo to be independent, then what is the purpose of the negotiations scheduled in Vienna?”
Randjel Nojkic, another member of Belgrade’s negotiating team, commented that all the Kosovo Serb participants to the meeting were “shocked by Sawyers’ frankness,” adding that “beside such a statement of a high diplomat, we have not gained any guarantees for the status of the Kosovo Serbs. On the contrary, all of our arguments and reasons for fear were refuted, because Sawyers thinks these are not grounded.”
As for the vice-President of the Serbs National Council (SNV) of central Kosovo Rada Trajkovic, she said: “We have conveyed to Sawyers that the Serbs will not live in an independent Kosovo, while the representatives of the Belgrade negotiating team threatened they will leave the team if the solution for Kosovo is already final, because in that case the meetings have no sense anymore,” RTV Serbia reported.
In Belgrade, where Sawyers is expected today, the Serbian Premier’s political advisor and member of Belgrade’s negotiating team for Kosovo’s future status Slobodan Samardzic stated to Beta: "I cannot believe that the Contact Group has made such a decision. I cannot comment on information second-hand. If it is true, it deserves a fierce comment. There are nuances in the words and I have no intention of commenting on this."
Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, who heads the Coordination Center for Kosovo (CCK), considers that, "if it is really Great Britain's stand in the Contact Group, I wonder why Sawyers does not offer a similar solution for Northern Ireland or Wales. If it is the stand of the entire Contact Group, then Belgrade should reconsider its participation in the Kosovo status talks." She added that Sawer's reactions "indicate nervousness of certain Contact Group members" after Russian President Vladimir Putin's clear stand that "Kosovo and Metohija is a principal tightly linked with international law," Beta reported.