Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Envoy to present first draft of Kosovo status package to Contact Group 11 Sep

Text of report by Fatmir Aliu entitled "Status package - on 11 September in Sofia" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 25 August

Prishtina [Pristina], 24 August: The increased pressure and the dissatisfaction of both parties with the insufficient results achieved Thursday [24 August] afternoon are taking a different direction as the Kosovars have received clarifications about the future of Kosova [Kosovo], while the internationals received more guarantees of the Kosovars' promises.

Martti Ahtisaari, UN special envoy for Kosova's status, came out of Thursday evening's meeting with the Kosovars pleased with the generosity they showed in the way they envision resolving the technical issues that are being negotiated with official Belgrade (decentralization, the issue of Mitrovice [Kosovska Mitrovica], minority rights, the cultural and religious heritage and the economy).

Satisfied with the promises received and the change of principles that the Kosovars will defend before Belgrade's delegation in Vienna, Martti Ahtisaari unveiled his agenda to the Kosovars.

As Koha Ditore has learned from international sources, after being briefed, [former Finnish] President Ahtisaari said that he is "ready to conclude the draft framework of ideas for resolving the status of Kosova by 7 September".

But before this happens, President Ahtisaari will sit Prishtina and Belgrade around the discussion table once again, during the first week of September, from 4 to 7 September, and will request once again that the negotiating parties argue their positions on decentralization and minority rights.

The international sources further added that the possibility of holding other meetings also on the issues of the economy and cultural heritage is not ruled out. When all this ends, Ahtisaari will meet with the political directors for Southeastern Europe and the Contact Group member states. He has chosen Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, for this purpose - there, on 11 September, together with diplomats from the United States, the Russian Federation, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, he will discuss the satisfactory achievements in the negotiation process, also in the presence of Kosova Prime Minister Ceku, and will also examine the "first draft of the package for resolving the status of Kosova".

Western diplomats close to the process said that, "seeing that the Serbians are not ready to move from their position", President Ahtisaari and his deputy Albert Rohan will most likely come out with a mediated proposal that is viewed as reasonable and is believed to be the final epilogue - limited independence. This proposal, they said, is expected to be presented also to the foreign ministers of the Contact Group member states during the Contact Group's ministerial meeting in New York.

As Koha Ditore has learned from its sources, this meeting is expected to be held sometime between 16 and 18 September. Although the exact date of the meeting between President Ahtisaari and the foreign ministers of the Contact Group member states remains uncertain so far, as Koha Ditore has learned from international sources in New York, President Ahtisaari has left this issue open, because he will be staying in the United States until 26 September.

According to Western diplomats, the package of proposals for resolving the status of Kosova will most probably offer the concept of limited independence with limited sovereignty. This means that the international community will remain involved in certain political issues, with a military presence too. This military presence, it is assumed, will remain the same as now or similar.

According to them, Russia's position on this issue remains to be examined, but it is also expected to be neutralized in the process, while London, Paris and Berlin are expected to accept the proposal that will emerge. They said that the United States' readiness to move in this direction is expected to be equally great, if not the greatest of all.

The Kosovar delegation to the talks and the UN special envoy for resolving the status of Kosova have agreed in principle on a number of issues that seemed unachievable a few days ago.

Unlike Wednesday, when President Ahtisaari was very tense and dissatisfied with the results achieved in his first meeting with the Kosovar party, on Thursday he managed to receive the answers and guarantees that the Kosovars are ready to do everything if they win what they are asking for.

At the meeting, which was held behind closed doors, as Koha Ditore has learned from international sources, the Kosovars argued before the international mediators that they will not offer more than 5+1 new municipalities.

As far as the issue of Mitrovice is concerned, they also agreed in principle to provide further details on the proposal for an international supervisory board, which was proposed by the Kosovar side, and to assign duties and the responsibilities to the board. But official Prishtina, as Kosova President Fatmir Sejdiu himself stated, will stick by its position that Mitrovice will remain one city, but with two municipalities.

Regarding other issues, such as the cultural and religious heritage, official Prishtina has agreed to implement the principles of Martti Ahtisaari's office for all those monuments that are of special importance.

"Over the past two days, we have had extremely fruitful and in-depth talks. We have presented the positions that we had with the Vienna delegations on all the issues that we had there. The important thing is that along this road we also want to create a sustainable structure in local government in Kosova, which will be in the citizens' interest. We stick by our position that there will be five new municipalities plus one that will be expanded.

"We have expressed this in a very convincing way and we have argued our position, and I believe there was mutual understanding. Decentralization has not been concluded, but it will end in a few days' time," President Sejdiu stated after a meeting with President Ahtisaari and his teams of experts that lasted several hours.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 25 Aug 06

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