Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Statement on Kosovo partition met with mixed reactions by Serbs in Gracanica

Excerpt from report by Belgrade-based B92 TV on 15 August

[Newsreader] While government representatives are ruling out the possibility of Kosovo partition and claim that the statement by [head of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo-Metohija] Sanda Raskovic-Ivic [to this effect] was taken out of context in an interview with the BBC, certain analysts take the view that her statement was not coincidental. According to them, this was done to test the water of domestic and international opinion on the possibility of Kosovo partition.

[Reporter] Sanda Raskovic-Ivic told the BBC that if both sides - Serbs and Albanians - face the fact that it is impossible for them to live together, and if the international community faces that fact as well, then a win-win situation would be a kind of partition. This statement was met by different comments from the locals in Gracanica.

[First citizen] This is not the first time that Sanda Raskovic-Ivic is floating a trial balloon of [Serbian Prime Minister] Vojislav Kostunica. Let's get something straight - the position of the entire government, even opposition - is partition of Kosovo.

[Second citizen] The idea of Kosovo partition is mere provocation. This option does not, in any way, suit us. Maybe it suits that other part of Mitrovica - but for us here absolutely not.

[Third citizen] Maybe this can be a solution for Kosovo, for it to be partitioned. That way it would not be the way we want it, but neither the way they [Albanians] want it.

[Reporter] Analyst Djordje Vukadinovic believes that it is beyond any doubt that official Belgrade remains steadfast in its position of [granting] broad autonomy for Kosovo as part of Serbia. But he also pointed out that the kind of partition that Raskovic-Ivic suggested in the interview, as well as changes to borders, has been discussed in diplomatic circles for some time now.

[Vukadinovic] It seems as though this statement came out to test the water of both international and domestic, that is public opinion in Serbia, and diplomatic circles - to see what the reactions to this idea would be both abroad and in Serbia. As I already said this possibility has been denied for years, and for years it has been emphasized that it is absolutely out of the question. But this does not exclude the possibility that if a compromise is, after all, really sought then this idea will certainly need to have its place [as received].

[Passage omitted: UNMIK chief's position on this]

Source: B92 TV, Belgrade, in Serbian 1400 gmt 15 Aug 06

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