Saturday, September 24, 2005

In the News: Serbia explains its position

Interesting article today.  This has been bounced around over the weekend a little bit.  Personally, I can’t see this being accepted by the local people. However, it has some significant concession that are interesting as a opening position for negotiations.  Kosova would retain executive, legislative and judicial power.  That’s pretty significant.  It would also remain a demilitarized zone; if that means no Serbian troops in the province then that would be positive.  However, I don’t think local people are going to accept anything less than full independence and sovereignty.  Things have moved too far in six years to go back.  Stay tuned for more developments.

Serbia Explains Its Kosovo Status Position


Belgrade's contact person for Kosovo shed light on the essence of the formula "more than autonomy, less than independence" that Serbia has been promoting for months as a possible solution to the province's status issue.

(AP, Blic - 23/09/05; AP, Reuters, AFP, DPA, RFE/RL, Radio B92, Beta - 22/09/05)

Kosovo would get its own authorities, while Serbia would retain state and territorial sovereignty over the province, Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, the head of Serbia's Kosovo co-ordination centre, said Thursday (22 September), explaining the essence of Belgrade's vision for the province's future.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and others have been suggesting for months that the outcome of any talks to determine Kosovo's future status should amount to "more than autonomy, less than independence".

"The Albanian side in Kosovo gets executive, legislative and judicial power," Raskovic-Ivic said in an interview with the Serbian daily Danas published Thursday -- shedding light for the first time on the meaning of that formula. "Under UN Resolution 1244, the Serbian state is guaranteed international and territorial sovereignty."

In Belgrade's view, Kosovo should become a demilitarised zone and Serbia should retain control over borders, customs, fiscal and monetary policies. Furthermore, it wants defence and foreign affairs policies to be centralised -- implying that Kosovo and Serbia would share a defence minister, foreign affairs minister and a seat at the UN.

The province's ethnic Albanian majority is hoping that the talks to determine Kosovo's future, which are expected to begin later this year, will lead to full independence from Serbia.

"We shall get both independence and sovereignty," Raif Gashi, political adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, told Belgrade-based daily Blic on Thursday. "The people of Kosovo shall decide. The whole world is acquainted with the fact that 90 per cent of people in Kosovo want independence. There is no compromise over that issue."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoy for Kosovo, Kai Eide, is expected in the coming weeks to present his report on the province's progress in implementing a set of internationally endorsed standards laid down as a precondition for opening status talks. The standards encompass eight areas, including democratic institutions, rule of law, human and minority rights, economic development, freedom of movement and property rights.

UNMIK chief Soren Jessen-Petersen suggested Thursday that the initiation of the negotiations would likely be approved by the UN after Eide submits his report, as the organisation recognises that Kosovo cannot remain under its administration forever. While acknowledging that none of the standards has been fully met, Jessen-Petersen told the AP that the province has made sufficient progress for the process to determine its future to be launched.

"I am very confident that by the end of the year, status discussions will be under way," the UNMIK chief said. There is a general understanding within the international community that, even under the best circumstances, Kosovo would have had an extremely difficult time achieving the standards, he added.

Annan is widely expected to ask former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari to lead the international community's delegation in the talks. He would be assisted by three deputies representing the EU, the United States and Russia, which are members of the Contact Group for Kosovo.


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