Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Kosovo status should be determined as soon as possible – FM.

MOSCOW, April 12 (Itar-Tass) — Albanian Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj said a decision on Kosovo’s status should be taken as soon as possible.

After his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, Mustafaj said, “The problem of Kosovo’s status should be solved within the mandate of U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, i.e. till the end of the year. It is necessary to observe all rights of ethnic minorities, primarily ethnic Serbs. It is necessary to ensure stability and security in the province. All residents in Kosovo should have equal rights.”

In his view, “Kosovo’s government should not have truncated powers in the territory of the province. It is necessary to recognise Kosovo’s borders. The military presence should not restrict Kosovo’s right to be represented in the United Nations.”

On the situation in Montenegro, the minister noted that Albania “will not change good relations irrespective if the country remains part of Serbia and Montenegro or becomes independent. The main thing is that the referendum in Montenegro will be conducted transparently.”

“Albania plays a special role in the region. We realise our responsibility for solving regional problems. Albania will support a lasting peace and stability in the region,” Mustafaj stressed.

Lavrov said it is necessary to take a decision on Kosovo’s status by talks. “It’s useless and counter-productive to impose decisions on the parties.”

In his words, “It is necessary to comply with the standards related to the return of refugees and ensure security of the population and religious sacred places.”

“The decision taken by the sides themselves may help solve the problem. There is a base for this – the principles, which have been approved by the Contact Group. They envision many versions of possible final agreements,” Lavrov stressed.

“The sides should take a decision on conducting talks on Kosovo’s status. The talks are being held, but they are rather complex. Russia supports this process,” the minister pointed out.

Summing up the results of his talks with the Albanian minister, Lavrov said he is satisfied with the development of the political dialogue with Albania. “I’m satisfied with the onward development of relations with Albania.”

“We agreed to bring economic relations to the level of political dialogue as part of preparations for a session of the inter-governmental commission to take place in the autumn. We’re planning to focus on developing energy cooperation, promoting a direct dialogue between businessmen and strengthening relations between the chambers of commerce and industry,” Lavrov stressed.

In his words, during the talks, the sides “agreed to modernise the legal base, including our work on the agreement on customs cooperation. We’ re expected to solve the problem of clearing debt.”

The minister said both sides show interest in maintaining cultural and educational cooperation. “Our relations in these fields are developing actively. We praise Albanians’ interest in the Russian language and we want hundreds of Albanians to study in Russia,” Lavrov said.

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