Friday, August 10, 2007

Diplomats to visit Kosovo, seeking new talks

By Nicholas Wood

A month after talks on the future of Kosovo foundered at the UN Security Council, envoys from the United States, the European Union and Russia met Thursday before making a three-day visit to the Balkans to try to start a new round of negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership. But politicians and diplomats in the region said they were skeptical that an agreement could be reached.

Officially, diplomats argued that new talks — for which they were allotting 120 days — could lead to a compromise, thereby bridging what has become a substantial rift between Russia, Serbia's main ally, which opposes independence for Kosovo, and Western governments.

So far Russia has rejected a United Nations plan, devised after 14 months of negotiations between the Serbs and the ethnic Albanian majority of Kosovo ended in deadlock. The plan would give Kosovo independence from Serbia, though under the supervision of a European-led mission. Russia has threatened to veto the plan in the Security Council and has insisted that any settlement needs the agreement of both Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders.

The Troika, as the Russian, European and American envoys are being called, is expected to work out a process for the talks this weekend, diplomats in the region said. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, has set a deadline of Dec. 10 for the conclusion of talks.

Both sides are sticking to hardened positions: Ethnic Albanians, who make up more than 90 percent of the population, want independence, while Serbia, which has nominal sovereignty over Kosovo, says it would agree to substantial autonomy but not full independence.

"Any proposal other than independence is unacceptable," the Kosovo prime minister, Agim Ceku, said to reporters in Pristina, the capital, Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic of Serbia appeared to adopt a more conciliatory tone, saying his government was ready to compromise by offering Kosovo rights associated with sovereignty, such as membership in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since 1999, when Serbian armed forces, accused of committing atrocities against ethnic Albanians, were forced to leave the province after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign.

Wolfgang Ischinger, the German ambassador to London, who is traveling to the region as the European Union's envoy, put the burden squarely on Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians.

"We are offering Belgrade and Pristina another opportunity — maybe the last opportunity — to work out a negotiated solution," he told the BBC in London, where the Troika's representatives met before their visit. "If there is success of this effort, it will be their success; if there is failure of this process, it will be their failure."

But some diplomats who have been involved in the negotiations since they began early last year say that ultimately a settlement will have to be imposed.

"There is nothing to negotiate," said a Western diplomat in Pristina. "There is no compromise to be found."

A European diplomat involved in the previous negotiations in Vienna compared the situation to "Groundhog Day," the 1993 movie in which the main character relives the same day again and again.

The stumbling block to an imposed settlement is that a number of European governments are unwilling to support a settlement that does not have backing from the United Nations.

While further talks are unlikely to produce a settlement, these two diplomats said, they could allow the European states to find a common position, and perhaps to recognize Kosovo unilaterally. That is a position that Washington proposes if the negotiations fail.

Last month, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany of Hungary said the EU would have no alternative.

"We must have an answer in case talks fail," he told reporters in Budapest. "And this answer cannot be anything other than a united action by the EU and NATO."

"The emancipation of Kosovo is an unstoppable process. If Kosovar Albanians lose hope of independence in the near future, then we will be faced with a crazy security challenge within a week."

But his view is not shared throughout the EU. Other governments, notably Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, have said they are opposed to the Union's recognition of Kosovo in the event of a stalemated negotiation.

(Source : IHT)

Read More......

Priština to seek independence guarantees

PRIŠTINA -- Agim Ceku says Priština will present its negotiations platform as it meets the Contact Group Troika Saturday.

“The core principles of this platform are well known: independence is not negotiable, and neither is Kosovo’s territorial integrity, while the Ahtisaari package has been closed, and cannot be further debated,” Kosovo’s prime minister said.

According to him, Kosovo is ready to continue talks even though its top officials deemed them unnecessary.

Ceku added the Priština negotiating team will let the Troika know unequivocally that, as far as it was concerned, the coming round of talks will be “the last delay” in settling Kosovo’s status.

“We will seek guarantees that a decision on Kosovo’s independence will be made after 120 days [of talks],” Ceku was reported as saying.

The three Contact Group diplomats representing the EU, U.S. and Russia are in Belgrade today, and will travel to Priština tomorrow.

(Source :

Read More......

Ahtisaari plan would make Kosovo NATO-state

BELGRADE -- An adviser to the prime minister says that an implementation of Ahtisaari’s plan would make Kosovo a NATO-state.

Aleksandar Simić told weekly NIN that the calls from NATO and the U.S. for implementing UN Kosovo Eenvoy Martti Ahtisaari’s plan before the talks begin "makes one wonder why Kosovo's independence is more important than respecting international law, the sovereignty of an internationally recognized state and regional stability."

“It pays to ask whether the real reason for the Kosovo independence project is the fact that Ahtisaari foresaw the authority of the international civil observers to be limited so that it would place Kosovo under the authority of NATO,” Simić said.

Simić said that NATO would stay for the long-term in the province with special authority, would have unlimited power, free movement, while the NATO commanders in Kosovo would have supreme authority in all aspects of proposed solutions which are based on the use of force.

“When all of these regulations are taken into consideration, it can be concluded that the implementation of Ahtisaari’s plan would call for Bondsteel to practically be the capital city of an independent Kosovo,” Simić said.

(Source :

Read More......

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Kosovo warns of mounting tension as new talks open

By Matt Robinson

PRISTINA, Serbia (Reuters) - Kosovo warned on Wednesday of rising Albanian tension and eventual street protests, on the eve of fresh talks led by the West and Russia on the fate of the breakaway Serbian province.

Senior ethnic Albanian political leader Veton Surroi said the patience of Kosovo's 90 percent Albanian majority was not "limitless", and protests "could not be excluded" if independence is delayed much longer.

A "troika" of envoys from the United States, European Union and Russia was due to meet in London on Thursday before going to Serbia and Kosovo, opening fresh diplomacy on top of 13 months of direct talks that ended in stalemate in March.

The United States, and EU members Germany, France and Italy lead 16,000 troops from 35 NATO and non-NATO countries in Kosovo. Their peacekeepers would be in the front line if frustration and unrest should turn to violence.

Serbian ally Russia has blocked a Western-backed U.N. plan for EU-supervised independence, eight years since NATO wrested control of the territory and the United Nations took over.

"We have to be aware that fear is building among the people," Surroi told the Kosovo daily Express. "The people of Kosovo have a right to put pressure on their institutions."

"There is a feeling they have sacrificed everything for the sake of Kosovo's status. Not just the war, the burning and destruction, but everything they have sacrificed over the past eight years ... simply to have a status solution," he said.


Surroi is a member of Kosovo's 'unity team', a pact of government and opposition leaders created to maintain stability as pressure for independence mounts.

The new round of diplomacy and dialogue has been forced on the West by Russia, which threatened to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution based on the plan by envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

Western diplomats hold out little hope of a deal. Kosovo has threatened to declare independence, possibly before 2008, and seek recognition from Washington and its European allies, a move that could split the 27-member European Union.

Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku said on Wednesday the new talks were "simply to give more time to countries that have not yet decided whether to recognize Kosovo's independence".

Serbia rejects independence for its southern province. But the 2 million Albanians living there will accept nothing less, after almost half the population was temporarily expelled during Serbia's 1998-99 war against separatist rebels. NATO bombed to drive out Serb forces and halt the slaughter of civilians.

Washington says the talks should run till December 10 -- the date for a progress report to the United Nations -- but no further.

Russia insists the dialogue should be open ended, and that any solution must have the agreement of both parties.

Serbia on Wednesday cautioned the United States against trying to revive the Ahtisaari blueprint, and called on Washington to show "full restraint and impartiality".

(Additional reporting by Fatos Bytyci and Gordana Filipovic)

(Source : Reuters)

Read More......

Talks will not be based on Ahtisaari plan

MOSCOW, WASHINGTON, BELGRADE -- Alexandar Botsan-Harchenko told B92 that Martti Ahtisaari’s Kosovo status plan will not be a basis for renewed talks.

Russia’s envoy in the Contact Group Troika, established to mediate in the upcoming talks on the province’s future, said his country will decisively oppose any deadlines once negotiations start.

Harchenko also said that all participants must work to reach a negotiated settlement.

“Ahtisaari’s plan did not win the support of the Security Council since it is not based on a negotiated outcome and compromise between Belgrade and Priština.”

“I see no point in discussing that plan, it cannot be a basis for the upcoming talks,” the Russian diplomat explained.

Harchenko added he will once again tell other Troika members that Russia opposes any deadlines in the negotiations.

“We decisively oppose deadlines. Our goal is to reach a negotiated settlement, taking into account both sides’ positions, and we consider UN Resolution 1244 valid. This resolution must be taken very seriously,” Harchenko said.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey called on Belgrade and Priština Wednesday to take active part in the new round of talks, adding that his country believed independence was the best solution for Kosovo.

“We believe that, after all, independence is the way forward for Kosovo, at first supervised, as envisaged by Martti Ahtisaari’s plan,” Casey said.

The European Union’s representative Wolfgang Ischinger, Russia’s Alexandar Botsan-Harchenko and American diplomat Frank Wisner will be in Belgrade on Friday.

It was announced earlier today that a meeting between the Contact Group envoys, Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and President Boris Tadić will begin a 3 p.m. the same day.

Belgrade to Washington: Show restraint

The government today called on the United Stated to demonstrate “restraint and impartiality” over the Kosovo status issue.

Education Minister Zoran Lončar told Beta that the U.S. was trying to “resuscitate” UN Kosovo Envoy Martti Ahtisaari plan which suggests supervised independence as the province’s future status.

Lončar, however, said the plan was “definitely discarded”.

“If the Ahtisaari plan were alive, clearly, Ahtisaari himself would still be the mediator in the negotiating process,” he added.

Lončar told the agency Koštunica’s cabinet expected the U.S. representative in the new talks on Kosovo’s future to demonstrate “impartiality and a constructive approach, in a bid to reach a compromise in line with the UN Charter and Serbian constitution”.

(Source :

Read More......

UNMIK cancels decree suspending return of property

PRIŠTINA -- UNMIK’s controversial decision to halt the return of property in Kosovo has been abolished Wednesday.

The United Nations mission in Kosovo deputy chief Steven Schook told a news conference in Priština that he was pleased with the decision, since it, in his words, demonstrated Kosovo institutions’ dedication to the rule of law.

UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker passed decree 2007/41 on August 2, suspending a previous one from October last year, dealing with the return of property to rightful owners.

Kosovo’s Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Ardian Gjini told reporters that Priština was “determined to respect the sixth standard”, which pertains to property rights.

“We are aware that difficulties may arise due to the situation we are in, but we are determined to respect the property law,” Gjini said.

Over 25,000 claims for return of property have been submitted so far in Kosovo.

Serbia’s authorities condemned the August 2 decision, branding it “one of the most scandalous in the history of UNMIK”, and announcing possible legal action against Ruecker.

(Source :

Read More......

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"Kosovo Serbs, Balkan Palestinians”

NEW YORK -- The Wall Street Journal deemed Kosovo Serbs the Balkan version of Palestinians, and described them as "useful pawns".

An editorial published Wednesday said that, "if Western will flags, they could get their own Gaza strip.”

“Caught between a pushy Kremlin, weak-kneed Europe and otherwise-occupied Washington, the Kosovars are being denied their happy ending. Unless the U.S. forcefully steps in to usher this province of two million to independence without any messy compromises, Southeast Europe could fall off track again, with nasty repercussions for everyone,” the articles says.

“The U.S. and its allies have put billions in aid, political capital and boots on the ground to bring the former Yugoslav states to the doorstep of the West's elite clubs. Now comes the hitch."

"When NATO agreed to put its status in limbo at the end of the 1999 war and sent in a U.N. government, no one could know that a future President Vladimir Putin would turn Kosovo into a proxy for his larger fight with the West, along with missile defense and Iran,” the Wall Street Journal writes.

“This patience may not hold long. Fresh elections are due in November, coinciding with the end of the latest negotiation period. Pressure is on them to declare independence unilaterally."

"Among the consequences could be that barely dormant ethnic nationalisms flare up. Kosovo's Serbs may try to cut away the northern sliver of the province, while Albanians feel emboldened to press anew for a 'Greater Albania' uniting in a single state a nation currently scattered among four. Violence is a good bet,” the article continues.

“A different Europe might unite in response to the Kremlin's provocation. This one is splintering, as in the early 1990s also over the Balkans. Britain wants to push ahead on independence, while the Germans fear antagonizing Moscow. In between, the French claimed the diplomatic lead and pushed the three-month delay,” the newspaper states.

At stake isn't Serbian national sovereignty but liberty for the Kosovo Albanians, it continues.

"This province was part of Yugoslavia, a state that no longer exists; Serbia effectively lost its claim in the 1990s. The EU plays softly-softly with Belgrade, even recently restarting talks toward eventual membership. Instead, Belgrade should be given a stark choice: a future in league with Russia, or the EU and NATO. Kosovo is the test,” the Wall Street Journal writes.

(Source :

Read More......

Kosovo: OSCE says daily “unprofessional, irresponsible"

PRIŠTINA -- The OSCE in Kosovo issued a statement in which it condemned the reporting of Priština daily Infopress.

The statement described a series of articles containing names of Kosovo Serbs allegedly involved in crimes during the war in the province as “a worrying development of increased unprofessional and irresponsible reporting.”

In March, the newspaper published an article entitled “Squad in Gračanica” containing a list of names of Kosovo Serbs from that village. Then came two articles in May about a Kosovo Serb police officer it accused of human rights violations, the statement said.

This was followed by a series of articles on “Serb massacres in the Mitrovica region,” followed by an article about “the organization of Serb forces” in Istok.

The daily then proceeded to publish a list of mostly Serbs, containing their full names and other details, from May 30 to June 6.

The Serbs from the list were allegedly reservists with the Yugoslav Army (VJ) in Kosovo.

“These lists have caused significant concern among the minority population and within the Press Council of Kosovo, which paid a visit to the media outlet to draw its attention to the potentially dangerous consequences such irresponsible reporting might have,” the OSCE said.

“According to Article 10.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the exercise of freedom of expression ‘carries with it duties and responsibilities’,” the statement reminds, and adds that “it is the duty and responsibility of Infopress to understand that such reporting could provoke certain readers to carry out ‘justice’ outside the judicial system.”

Even after the warnings it received, the newspaper continued publishing the lists, first on July 23, and then from July 30 to August 4, “every issue of Infopress contained more lists.”

“The OSCE Mission strongly condemns these publications, which lack basic journalistic standards and reflects negatively on the editorial principles of Infopress. The reasoning as well as the forces behind these articles are unclear,” the statement says.

“This kind of irresponsible journalism does not help to inform the public, nor does it contribute to peaceful co-existence of different communities in Kosovo. It creates a negative image of Kosovo and is detrimental to the aspirations of most Kosovans to live in a tolerant civilized European society governed by the rule of law.”

The OSCE also addressed Infopress' explanation of their actions which said that the articles were produced “in an attempt to support the judiciary.”

“The clear division of powers of government together with a politically independent media are the indispensable cornerstones of every democratic society. It is not the role of the media to act ‘in support’, on behalf or in place of the judiciary or any branch of government,” the statement said in reaction.

“The OSCE Mission in Kosovo calls upon Infopress, and Kosovo's newspapers in general, to follow the professional code of conduct which they themselves have agreed to abide by as members of the Press Council, and to contribute to responsible, professional and de-politicized reporting,” the statement ends.

(Source :

Related link : OSCE Press Release on this issue

Read More......

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Contact Group Troika in Belgrade on Friday

MOSCOW, LONDON -- The Russian member of the Kosovo talks Troika says the Contact Group envoys will be in Belgrade on Friday.

Alexandar Botsan-Harchenko confirmed reports that the group would meet in London a day earlier, and added the agenda for the visit to Serbia was still worked on.

Beta learned from a source close to the Kosovo Ministry that the authorities in Belgrade do not consider the arrival of the Troika as the start of the negotiating process.

Instead, it will be a chance to determine clear rules and format for the talks, the source told the agency.

Wolfgang Ischinger, Frank Wisner and Alexandar Botsan-Harchenko, members of the recenlty formed Kosovo negotiations Troika, will hold separate meetings with President Boris Tadić, Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić.

Earlier, UK Foreign Office spokesman Brian Jones said in a phone interview to Beta that the meeting in London Thursday will be held at the level of political directors and will be attended by the members of the Troika.

Jones also said that "the usual topics" in the process of solving the Kosovo issue would be discussed at the meeting.

After Russia's opposing to adopt the resolution on the Kosovo status based on the proposal of special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, the UN Security Council decided to leave the Kosovo status negotiations to the Contact Group.

(Source :

Read More......

U.S. State Department Comment on Ahtisaari Corruption

According to Press Briefing on July 13, 2007 US State Department comment on Ahtisaari Corruption Case :

QUESTION: On Kosovo. Mr. Casey, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested today Martti Ahtisaari unfitness* to mediate further talks based on a bunch of reports that Albanian mafia bribe the UN Kosovo mediator, something which has been most* confirmed by Washington-based Global Information System, GIS, and Gregory Copely of Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute. Given the U.S. Government concern about corruption at the UN, should the U.S. Government be calling for an investigation into this matter? How do these allegations impact U.S. confidence in Ahtisaari's fitness to mediate further talks in Kosovo?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, I think that the reports you're referring to probably fall into the category of spurious. But look, Mr. Ahtisaari is a distinguished former head of government of Finland, a person with a tremendous amount of experience and a track record in working on these issues. He has the full confidence of the Secretary General who appointed him UN and certainly the plan that Mr. Ahtisaari put forward has the full endorsement of the United States as the basis for moving forward.
We've put forward a Security Council resolution with others that calls presently for a period of additional discussions among the parties prior to implementation of those recommendations. But again, I don't see any reason why there should be any question about the work that he did. We very much appreciate and respect the efforts that he made. We believe that he came up with a good plan and one that's in the best interests of the Kosovars, of the Serbian people and of the region as a whole.

QUESTION: One more on the same issue. According to reports, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon already started an investigation about these payments, confirmed the existence by a report prepared for him by the German intelligence agency BND unit assigned to the UN mission in Kosovo. Any comment on it?

MR. CASEY: Mr. Lambros, you're free to go ask the UN what investigations it has or hasn't started. The facts are very simple here. There needs to be a resolution of the situation in Kosovo. The plan that Mr. Ahtisaari came up with is the best solution possible, we believe, as a basis for such a resolution. That's what we're working forward on. If you'd like to pursue shadows, feel free to talk to the UN about it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CASEY: Yeah.

Related article about this case : Fifty Million Dollars and Up for Dismembering a Medium-Size Sovereign State

Read More......

Serbia, Russia to have joint policy in upcoming talks

BELGRADE, BERN -- Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica says that new Kosovo negotiations open up a possibility of compromise.

“New talks, with new mediators, open up possibilities that there will be a compromise solution, that will on the one hand satisfy Serbia’s essential interests, as well as those of the Albanian ethnic minority in the province,” Koštunica told Beta.

According to him, Serbia and Russia will in the upcoming talks promote “a joint principled policy”, based on respect of international law.

“It is of special importance that as many UN Security Council member states, and of course, as many European countries as possible support this policy, in order to reach a settlement over the province’s future,” Koštunica said.

On Sunday, President Boris Tadić said that the visit of the Contact Group’s Kosovo mediators must be used to define upcoming negotiations.

Tadić said as he met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Swtizerland, that talks with Contact Group officials must be used to define the form in which the Kosovo status negotiations will unfold.

He added that "serious and difficult challenges await Serbia".

“In the coming months, our foreign policy will be focused mainly on the negotiation process. The stability of the entire region of the Western Balkans depends on the success of this,” Tadić said.

He added that “the majority of countries, when the Kosovo talks began earlier in Vienna, had the idea that Kosovo independence was the best solution, but the situation today is different.”

The Serbian Government is expected to name its negotiation team soon, and its stance could depend on the agreements reached by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon and officials of the Contact Group on the way in which the Kosovo talks will be organized.

What is certain is that the following officials will be a part of the negotiation team: Tadić, Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica, Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Jeremić and Kosovo Minister Slobodan Samardžić, and the composition of the rest of the team could depend on whether Ban decided to focus on technical questions or the status question, according to the Tanjug news agency.

(Source =

Read More......

Attack in South Serbia sent a message

BELGRADE -- A security expert says the weekend showdown between the police and masked gunmen in southern Serbia sent a clear message. Zoran Dragišić, a professor of security studies, said that the robberies and later attacks on police had a message that goes beyond simple thievery.

He told daily Danas that the story of uniformed individuals, armed heavily while committing petty crimes seems out of place.

“I am convinced that the robbery was nothing more than a cover-up. Albanian politicians can now say it was a criminal act,” Dragišić said.

Dragišić said that ten armed and uniformed individuals who seem to be organized enough to rob banks, have no reason to commit robberies on the highway.

Dragišić added that while the attacks, "at this point", indeed bore no hallmarks of terrorism, the group sent a clear message.

“The act sent a message to everyone involved. That is a message of support for the Albanians, and an effort to frighten the Serbs. The plans of the Albanians for Kosovo independence have fallen through, there will be new negotiations, and that has caused a significant amount of frustration,” Dragišić said.

“This was done very skillfully done, because a regular terrorist act would damage their chances and the support they are receiving from the West,” Dragišić said.

(Source :

Read More......

Kosovo team will insist on techincal issues, Ceku

PRISTINA - Kosovo Premier Agim Ceku said Monday that he does not view “the 120 days of the status talks as the start of a new process for Kosovo, but as an unnecessary delay,” the Albanian-language media have reported.

In his regular weekly address to the nation via Kosovo Radio, Ceku expressed beliefthat this pe riod will be used to, as he said, confirm the state hood of Kosovo. “The activation of the Contact Group is an attempt of the international community to seek a way out of the situation created in the UN Security Council,” Ceku set out, adding that the new talks “are not wel come, but have been accepted, because they remain as the sole possibility for a solition.”

Ceku stated that this is “the final postponment” and that the Kosovo negotiating team would insist that “independence cannot be discussed” and that “independence is a done matter, it will not be negotiated and territorial entirety is undisputed.”

“Ahtisaari’s pack age is a finished matter and will not be open to debate,” Ceku underscored. He said that “the fate of the missing persons, succession, the division of debt and economic relations” are practical matters that will be discussed during the talks.

“Our government demands and insists on clarity. We are the keepers of the process and the victims of dead lines. We greeted with satisfaction the setting of Dec 10 as the deadline for handing in the recommendations. Time is very important for conducting affairs that are in favour of our citizens,” Ceku noted.

(Source : Tanjug)

Read More......

Monday, August 6, 2007

Kosovo: Return of property halted

BELGRADE -- UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker has decided to temporarily put on hold the return of property in Kosovo.

The decree 2007/41, halting the process, was passed on August 2. It suspends decree 2006/50 from October last year, pertaining to return of private property.

Serbia’s state secretary with the Ministry for Kosovo, Dušan Proroković, said the decision was “one of the most scandalous in the eight-year history of UNMIK”.

“It awards usurpers, and punished over 25,000 Serb families that applied for the return of their property,” Proroković told Beta.

He added Ruecker’s decision made impossible for any return of the non-Albanian residents to the province, and legalized the results of ethnic cleansing of July 1999 and March 2004.

“We need to react to this using diplomatic and political means, but we must also examine the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Joachim Ruecker with domestic and international courts,” Proroković said, and added such acts were not protected by diplomatic immunity.

Serb National Council of Northern Kosovo president Milan Ivanović told the agency the decree was illegal and directed against vital Serb interest.

“The decision puts Ruecker on the side of Albanian usurpers of Serb property, prejudices the future status of Kosovo and stands against Resolution 1244,” Ivanović said.

(Source :

Read More......

Final status decision in 2008

BELGRADE -- Goran Svilanović says the final Kosovo decision should not be expected before the election of a new U.S. administration in 2008.

“Even after these new talks, Kosovo will have no stronger links to Serbia, on the contrary, they will grow looser and looser, all the way to the end,” the South-Eastern Europe Stability Pact official and former foreign minister in the Đinđić cabinet told Blic newspaper.

“In this process, the north will remain where it is today, meaning, with direct and absolute ties to Serbia in every sense of the word, irrelevant of the legal definition of the status,” Svilanović believes.

According to him, the Contact Group Troika for the new Kosovo talks was formed in order to involve Russia in the management of negotiations and force Moscow to share the responsibility for their outcome, but also to demonstrate that “no compromise was possible even in Putin himself conducted the talks”.

Svilanović sees the EU decision to appoint German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger as its representative in the Troika as a signal that Germany is interested in a permanent, leading role in EU decisions regarding the Balkans, adding that in that context, Ischinger was “the right man in the right place”.

Svilanović also told the daily he believes the Serbian government has its Plan B, in case the new talks fail, but added no one should expect the details to be revealed until the very last moment.

“The government is aware that even if there is a declaration of independence, and even if the EU recognizes it, that what will in effect transpire is a de facto instant partition of Kosovo, since the north will not integrate with the rest of Kosovo at any point.”

“And, the Serbian government should not be underestimated at any point if this process,” Svilanović added.

“A declaration of independence would be a shortcut to partition. The longer, more elegant way, are negotiations. Still, the government will not mention this, since it would compromise its territorial integrity position the very instant it brings partition up,” he continued.

Commenting on the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo and individual recognition, Svilanović said that was one possibility, should the sides fail to arrive at a compromise.

“However, even if the U.S. were to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, that would not carry excessive weight and would not change the facts in the field.”

“At this point, less than half of the EU member states are prepared for such a move [unilateral recognition]. However, this could change by the end of the year. That too depends on the upcoming talks and the manner in which the participants in the negotiations will choose to behave,” Svilanović concluded.

(Source :

Read More......

Is Kosovo compromise possible?

BELGRADE, PRIŠTINA -- Swiss constitutional law expert Thomas Fleiner believes that Kosovo compromise can be reached if new talks prove to be open.

“As long as the U.S. and dominant EU countries insist on Kosovo’s independence, Priština will not be ready to truly negotiate,” Fleiner, who acted as Belgrade’s negotiating team adviser, told Blic daily.

He said it was impossible to predict when the final decision on the province’s status will be made, but that the solution should not be expected in the short term.

“Whoever knows the history of the past several hundred years, must be aware that a solution will not be made in the next two to three months, or for that matter in the next 120 days, as some expect,” Fleiner told the newspaper.

Speaking about his involvement, Fleiner said no offer to continue as the Belgrade team adviser in the process was made so far.

According to him, the upcoming talks should focus on solutions to improve the living and legal conditions for the residents in both Kosovo and Serbia proper.

“The status issue is mainly a point of prestige,” Fleiner concluded.

Batt: Kosovo and Serbia must divorce

Judy Batt of the Institute for Security Studies in Paris says it is too late for a compromise between Belgrade and Priština, and advocates “a clear divorce” as the best solution.

“We are very worried that indefinite stalling of the status decision could lead to increased tensions in the region. This could jeopardize the whole strategy to stabilize the region and accelerate its movement toward EU integrations,” Batt said.

She believes a perspective of a Palestine-like permanent crisis in the middle of Europe is bad.

Stressing that the EU needed to see a clear status for Kosovo in order to speed the integration both of the province and Serbia itself, Batt said she was pessimistic about the outcome of the upcoming talks.

“As things stand today, it is hard to see the basis of a compromise between such rigid, dug in positions. I fear that we will not have made a single step forward after 120 days.”

“I don’t see Serbia’s ‘more than autonomy, less than independence’ formula as a compromise solution. It is merely an excuse to indefinitely prolog the status quo,” Batt believes.

“Independence is minimum”

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Agim Ceku says Priština will not negotiate over Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity in the upcoming talks on the province’s future.

“Independence is the only option and no one can force us to accept anything else,” Ceku said.

He described independence for the province as “a minimum” demanded by the Kosovo residents.

He added that Kosovo’s territorial integrity will not be a subject of talks.

(Source :

Read More......

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Serbian Government Adopts Draft Rules For Kosovo Talks

BELGRADE, (Tanjug) - Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Slobodan Samardzic said that the Serbian government on Thursday adopted draft rules for the negotiations on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija which will be forwarded to the embassies of the Contact Group member states.

Addressing a press conference after a Serbian government ses sion, Samardzic said negotiations like the ones conducted in Vienna through the mediation of Martti Ahtisaari must be avoided. The rules of the ne go ti a tions must be clearly for mu lated, he said, which means that the subject of the negotiations, their duration and format must be defined.

It must not be permitted that the mediator in the talks has the possibility to break the rules of the negotiations, as it was the case in Vienna, the minister pointed out. The Serbian government is satisfied with the preparations for the talks that are proceeding within the Contact Group, Samardzic said, since Ahtisaari’s plan is no longer being mentioned as the topic of the negotiations. Samardzic declined to present the details of the draft rules of the negotiations adopted by the Serbian government to day, pointing out that “it would not be fair to present the details to the public before the members of the Contact Group are acquainted with them.”

Read More......

Friday, August 3, 2007

Contact Group to Report on Kosovo Talks to UN Secretary General by 10 December

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed yesterday the latest initiative of the Contact Group, which he said had briefed him “on its agreement on the modalities for further negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade,” and expressed the hope "that the new period of engagement will lead to an agreement on Kosovo's future status, which remains a priority for the UN." Insisting that "the status quo is not sustainable," he added that "the international community must find a solution that is timely, addresses the key concerns of all the communities living in Kosovo and provides clarity for Kosovo's status."

Further indicating that "the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Kosovo (UNOSEK) will be associated with the process by standing ready to provide information and clarification on request," Ki-moon added that "the UN will continue to play a constructive role in the new period of engagement and continue its major role on the ground in Kosovo.” The UN Secretary General concluded by indicating that “the Contact Group will report back to me by 10 December," the Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported, quoting a statement published on the UN website.

Commenting on the beginning of the new round of talks on the Kosovo status, Alex Cerniglia, from the Office of the UN Secretary General, told the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) that the Contact Group, and not the UN Secretary General, would decide when it should begin. His comment came after the EU High Representative Javier Solana had said in Manila yesterday that the new talks on the future status of Kosovo would begin in the middle of August, and that it would probably be the UN Secretary General who would invite the Serb and Albanian side to initiate them, the Belgrade electronic media reported, quoting Reuters.

(Source : UN Office in Belgrade)

Read More......

Serbia to ask for direct negotiations

BELGRADE -- The Belgrade media reported today that Serbia will ask for direct negotiations regarding Kosovo's future status. Dailies Blic and Večernje Novosti write that Belgrade would rather see direct talks than the announced “shuttle diplomacy” approach.

According to the papers, the Serbian Government will also ask for the talks to have no time limit and to only recognize status decisions made by the United Nations Security Council.

According to Blic, Serbia will insist that Martti Ahtisaari's plan be rejected in the new phase of talks, because it calls for an internationally supervised independence for the province.

Večerenje novosti writes that “Serbia supports real talks, in order to hear for the first time what the Kosovo Albanians' final compromise proposal is for the future status, and that is why Belgrade insists that the negotiations should be pushed back as much as possible.”

Kosovo Minister Slobodan Samardžić said that the government adopted on Thursday its proposed rules by which the negotiations should be led, but did not want to go into details.

Samardžić said that the proposal will be sent to the Contact Group and the embassies of its member countries in Belgrade.

Moscow daily: Positions edging closer

Moscow daily Kommersant writes Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić's statement that Serbia is prepared for a serious compromise over the Kosovo status solution, shows that Belgrade's stance is changing.

The daily, however, states that level of compromise Serbia is prepared for will not be enough to satisfiy the Kosovo Albanians and the West.
“The steps Belgrade is taking towards the Kosovo Albanians has made the gap between their stances smaller, but Priština does not want to hear about anything less than independence, and the West does not wish to stray from Ahtisaari's proposal too much,” the daily writes.

"Vojislav Koštunica and Minister Slobodan Samardžić categorically rejected the independence of Montenegro last year, so their position on Kosovo could change as well."

"Truthfully, these changes have come too late, when Belgrade already finds itself faced with a fait accompli,” Kommersant stated.

(Source :

Read More......
Add to Technorati Favorites
eXTReMe Tracker