Monday, August 21, 2006

Kosovo Albanians offer Serbs admin of 24 per cent of territory

Pristina_(dpa) _ The ethnic Albanian side in the talks on the future status of Kosovo is to offer Serbs in Serbia's breakaway province administration of 24 per cent of the territory, Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Lufti Haziri said Monday.

"In effect, 82 per cent of local Serbs in Kosovo administer themselves through the local governance ... while 24 per cent of Kosovo's territory is in their direct administration, which is in disproportion with their ethnic composition," Haziri said.

Ethnic Albanians are the vast majority of Kosovo, forming around 90 per cent of the population of what is formally still Serbia's province, though administered by the UN since 1999.

Talks between delegations from Pristina and Belgrade on the future status of Kosovo, held under UN auspices, were launched in February in Vienna, while the first top-level meeting of the prime ministers and presidents of Kosovo and Serbia took place late in July.

Little progress has been made in bringing the positions of the two negotiating sides closer. While ethnic Albanians insist on full independence for Kosovo, Serbia equally insists on not losing its territory and is offering wide autonomy instead.

UN special envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari is due to arrive to the province Tuesday for a three-day visit to Pristina.

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