Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kosovo president says guarantees for Serbs offered at Vienna meeting

Text of interview with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu broadcast by Radio-Television Kosovo TV on 24 July

[Announcer] We have our special reporter Nebi Qena live from Vienna interviewing Kosova [Kosovo] President Fatmir Sejdiu. Nebi, what is the news from Vienna?

[RTK special reporter Nebi Qena] The meeting happened today, it has been called by international and local people the meeting of elephants because elephants are animals that move with difficulty. They move from their position with difficulty just as the Kosovar and Serbian delegations did today. With me here is Kosova President Fatmir Sejdiu who led today's meeting for the Kosova side. Mr President, thank you for being here today. You were the head of the Kosova negotiation team at today's first meeting between the top Kosovar and Serbian officials. During the press conference there was a conviction that the meeting did not bring any movement of position and it is not expected that there will be any breakthrough between the two sides.

[President Sejdiu] I believe that the stances are very clear. We said in Prishtina [Pristina], and are saying it here today, that the Kosovar delegation has one mandate that was given to it by the Kosova Assembly and the political will of the people of Kosova for the independence of Kosova, and naturally any other option or variation of this opposes the will of the people and is absolutely unacceptable to us. We have offered our vision before the international community with the Serbian delegation present, where we argued our points why Kosova has to be independent, starting from the first point: that Kosova has a right to self-determination, which is a constitutional right and an international right, taking into consideration all the other developments that happened earlier in Kosova, and the ones that have been happening over the last few years. We want to build a Kosova with a vision for the future, a Kosova ruled by law, a democratic country based on democratic principles, a state where all citizens will be equal, including all the minorities. We offered here our guarantees for the Serb minority, but also for other minorities that want to be part of everyday life and be integrated in Kosova.

[Reporter] The Serbian side said that the arguments of the Kosovar side are not sustainable and they insist that the best solution is substantial autonomy for Kosova.

[Sejdiu] These are options or visions that we have already heard in the past; this is clear and can be deciphered with one answer. The Serbian side insists that they rule and govern over us, while we insist that we rule ourselves. We have placed these arguments before the international community and we have to see the weight of these arguments.

[Reporter] When we talk about governing Kosova, governing over the Serb minority is also understood, which is the main worry of the international community. What are the guarantees of the Kosova delegation for ensuring the rights of the Serb minority?

[Sejdiu] I firstly would like to say that we have had our test during the previous Vienna meetings. Some issues were initiated by the international community and were agreed on by both sides. One was reform in local government, the second was cultural heritage, and some economic aspects that I would call the normal succession of a country. In this respect, as you know, the vision we have offered involves an affirmative approach towards the Serb minority, with a possibility of decision-making at the local level, but without bringing up the issue of intercommunications that would in a way bring about the formation of third parallel structures or the exclusion of Kosova institutions in this direction. Our approach is that we truly want an affirmative integration of the Serb community in the central institutions. This takes into consideration that our initiative and the work we have done in Kosova and the current acts that have been passed since the war in forming the institutions based on the vote of the people of Kosova are based on international standards which will be under the supervision of the international community, for which we have instead to have a light presence of the international community on our future path.

[Reporter] How long will this period be, given the fact that there have been suggestions that the resolution of Kosova's status will be left until next year? Do you agree with this, do the people of Kosova agree with this?

[Sejdiu] Absolutely not, any delay would be dangerous. We have received support from the conclusions of the Contact Group and the countries that have immense influence in the UN Security Council, where it has been insisted that 2006 will be the year of defining the status of Kosova, which will result in independence for Kosova. In this respect I would like to say that any delay would only prolong, or better said it would be an approach that would only have negative effects in Kosova, but also in the region. We truly want to contribute to this process to prove that we are an important regional factor of stability.

[Reporter] Mr President, thank you very much.

Source: RTK TV, Pristina, in Albanian 1730 gmt 24 Jul 06

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