Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Serbs told Kosovo will be independent - negotiator

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - A senior British diplomat has told Serbs in Kosovo they should accept independence for the disputed Serbian province, Serb negotiator Goran Bogdanovic said on Tuesday.

"(John) Sawers told us the Contact Group had decided Kosovo should be independent. He said Kosovo would be multiethnic, but in the end independent," Bogdanovic told Belgrade radio B92, after meeting the political director of the Foreign Office late on Monday.

A British diplomat based in Kosovo said Sawers had delivered the "painful" message that Serbs, outnumbered roughly 20-1 by pro-independence Albanians, should be realistic.

The Contact Group of major powers has set international policy on Kosovo since 1999, when NATO bombs drove out Serb forces accused of atrocities against the ethnic Albanian majority in a 2-year war with separatist guerrillas.

Sawers was due to meet Serbian leaders in Belgrade on Tuesday ahead of direct Serb-Albanian negotiations later this month -- the first under a U.N.-led drive launched last year to decide Kosovo's final status.

His reported comments stirred tempers in Serbia, which regards Kosovo as the cradle of the nation.

Rich in Orthodox religious heritage, Kosovo was the site of the Serbs' epic 1389 defeat to the Ottoman Turks and has been key to Serb identity and history for the past 1,000 years.

"If that's the opinion of the entire Contact Group, then Belgrade should reconsider its participation in negotiations," said Serbia's Kosovo policy chief, Sanda Raskovic-Ivic.

The ultra-nationalist Radical Party, the country's strongest, said the government should resign rather than go into talks with the outcome already decided.

"I think we should dissolve parliament ... and see what the citizens of Serbia think about all of this," said Radical leader Tomislav Nikolic.

The British diplomat based in Kosovo said Sawers would also take his message to Belgrade.

"They (Serbs) have to look at what the Contact Group says, what the people of Kosovo want and what history will allow," he told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Legally part of Serbia, Kosovo has been run by the United Nations since 1999. Ninety percent of its 2 million people are ethnic Albanians who want independence.

Serbia says that is impossible, despite increasingly obvious hints from the international community to the contrary.

Sawers told reporters on Monday independence could be "delivered" if Albanians showed enough democratic maturity. Western diplomats say this means making concessions to the Serb minority and accepting continued international supervision.

The Contact Group last week told Serbia to "bear in mind the settlement needs to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo."


Anonymous said...

This is nothing new. It was all obvious... The only problem was how to tell Serbs (one more time) that Kosova was never theirs to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Genie is out of the bottle. Let's get done with it and move on.

Kristian said...

I don't believe its a point to tell anyone who's it was etc... the ppl of the region always knew who's land it was. There have been serbs that have lived there for generations as well. I think that all Kosovans know who's land it is. Now they need to work together so that whatever happened in the past is left there but not forgotten mind you, but to move on to the future so that everyone can move to economic development and prosperity for all Kosovans of all nationalities.

Once there is ligitamacy to the institutions there will be help and investments available in the region which will benefit all the ppl no matter what nationality. And all ppl will have to wake up and realize that nothing comes for free in life.

Ppl are accustomed to the old communist regimes of the past. Well everything now will depend on global market prices/demand and supply concepts. So ppl be prepared to bust your asses and work. No more free rides. And I hope the economic department in the government will make wise choices and create a viable economy for all. Its imperative and must be done as quickly as possible. It should be their NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!

Little stuff can be dealt with later. The key areas that deserve the most attention is economic development. Infrastructure is the key. Let it be civil infrastructure, economic, legal, etc..

Peace and prosperity to all the ppl of Kosovo/a.