Thursday, November 09, 2006
Kosovo PM prepared to declare independence unilaterally
Kosovo could unilaterally declare independence if talks with Belgrade fail to answer the demands of its ethnic Albanian majority, the prime minister of the Serbian province said Thursday."This is not a threat. We see this as a possibility. Kosovo will certainly be an independent country," prime minister Agim Ceku told reporters."Of course, we prefer this to happen through a resolution of the (UN) Security Council, which will have a wide support," Ceku added.The negotiations on the future status of the southern Serbian province, administered by the United Nations since June 1999, began in February under the auspices of the UN.Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, who make up around 90 percent of the province's two million population, are seeking independence from Serbia.But the government in Belgrade and Kosovo's Serb minority insist the province -- which they consider the cradle of Serbian culture and history -- should only be granted greater autonomy.Meanwhile, Ceku's deputy Lutfi Haziri, together with opposition leader Veton Surroi, visited the Serb-populated enclave of Gracanica near the capital Pristina, in a bid to convince Kosovo Serbs to accept the government's option for Kosovo's future status.Haziri presented the plan to form a new municipality that would group Gracanica and all villages around it, with some 18,000 inhabitants."Kosovo Serbs will have competencies in the departments of healthcare, education, public services, infrastructure, culture and sport," Haziri told a small audience of several dozen Serbs.Most of some 6,000 Serbs living in Gracanica, about eight kilometers (five miles) southeast of Pristina, have boycotted ethnic Albanian officials.Randjel Nojkic, a local Serb representative, said it was "too late" to hold such meetings between ethnic Albanian officials and the Serbs."Serbs do not have confidence in Kosovo institutions," he said.Serbs also protested over the government's move to shut down transmitters for two Serbian mobile phone providers, located in Gracanica and other Serb-populated enclaves, saying they were set up illegally."How can you believe their promises for our bright future in independent Kosovo, when they remove these antennas that are our only connection with Serbia," said revolted Nada Vojicic, 46-year-old housewife.Since 1999, some 200,000 Serbs have fled the province fearing attacks from ethnic Albanian hardliners. Those who have remained live in enclaves under heavy protection from NATO troops.On Thursday, a 53-year-old Serb was wounded in his house in the village of Letnica in eastern Kosovo.Police arrested three ethnic Albanian suspects. Two were released after questioning, but the third remains in detention.Belgrade lost control of Kosovo in 1999 after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign halted a crackdown by Serbian forces against independence-seeking ethnic Albanian guerrillas.
Posted by KosovaReport at 6:31 PM