Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More "realism" in Kosovo talks, says chairman

Vienna - Chairman of the current direct Kosovo talks, Albert Rohan, called on Tuesday for more "realism" on both sides.

Quoted by the Austrian parliamentary press service, he said the intenational community had made it clear to the people of Kosovo that with the beginning of the direct Belgrade-Pristina talks, there would not automatically be independence.

It had also been made clear that Pristina must improve the treatment of the Kosovo-Serb minority, said Rohan, who is deputy to UN Kosovo envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

To the Serbs in Kosovo, it had been empasized that they must join in the work for Kosovo's future, and that any further boycott would be counterproductive. But he regretted that the Serbs were only in part cooperative.

His statement was on the sidelines of a current conference of foreign policy committee chairpersons of EU national parliaments.

Austrian ex-diplomat Rohan again pointed to the complexity of the problem. Everything except independence would be acceptable to Belgrade. For Pristina, nothing but independence was thinkable.

The situation was aggravated by the Kosovo-Serbs, on Belgrade's advice, still boycotting the institutions in Pristina in the belief that they could thereby delay or prevent independence.

Rohan said the present strategy of the international community was above all not to allow the direct talks in Vienna to concentrate on the central question of Kosovo's future status.

Concrete and practical issues were being dealt with first, such as decentralization, protection of holy sites, minority rights, economic questions, and the future of the international presence in the Serbian province.

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