Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Serbs told Kosovo will be independent - negotiators

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A senior British diplomat has told Serbs that independence is the best solution for the disputed Serbian province of Kosovo in talks due within days, Serb negotiators said on Tuesday.

"[John] Sawers told us the Contact Group had decided Kosovo should be independent. He said Kosovo would be multi-ethnic, but in the end independent," Goran Bogdanovic, a Kosovo Serb, told Belgrade radio B92, after meeting the political director of the British Foreign Office late on Monday.

A second Serb negotiator in Belgrade, who attended a meeting between Sawers and the Serbian prime minister on Tuesday, said the diplomat saw independence as "practically the only solution to the Kosovo problem".

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.

Serbian and Kosovo Albanian officials are due to meet in Vienna on Feb. 20 for the first round of direct negotiations since the United Nations began a process last year to decide Kosovo's final status.

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.

Speaking to Reuters in Belgrade, Sawers said Kosovo's future should reflect the wishes of the majority of the population, echoing a statement issued by the Contact Group last week.

"It's no secret that the aspirations of the great majority of Kosovars are for independence," he said. "Some of these messages are unwelcome".

"UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE"

The comments stirred tempers in Serbia, which says the amputation of 13 percent of its territory is unthinkable. 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.

"It is utterly unacceptable to present one-sided and selective approaches to solving the issue of Kosovo before the talks have even begun," Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said in a statement issued after meeting Sawers.

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

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 explicit hints from Western powers that Kosovo cannot return under any form of control from Belgrade.

Sawers told reporters on Monday independence could be "delivered" in 2006 if Albanians showed enough democratic maturity. Western diplomats say this means making concessions to the Serb minority and accepting further international supervision.

(Additional reporting by Beti Bilandzic in Belgrade)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

By using the Serb logic "fought there", Turkey now would have to expand all the way to the doors of Vienna. They lost a couple of battles there ;)

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.

Visit Prishtina said...

#1

That was really funny!

"fought there, lost there, sent the postcard, bought the t-shirt"...