25 March 2006

British official urges Kosovo to embrace multi-ethnicity



Source: Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)

Date: 06 Feb 2006


Pristina_(dpa) _ Only by embracing multi-ethnicity and European standards can Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo hope for independence, a British Foreign Office official said in Pristina Monday, but adding that an international presence would remain.


"The more the leaders of Kosovo can reach out to the other communities and show Kosovo's mature democracy, the more fully can an independence be delivered," British Foreign Office Political Director John Sawers said after meeting with the Kosovo negotiating team.


Sawers said that he met with UN envoy for Kosovo status talks Martti Ahtisaari in London last week and that they agreed that European standards must be implemented in the province if Kosovo's status is to be resolved in the course of 2006.


Settlement of the Kosovo status should conform with the wishes of the majority of the people in the province, he added.


"A great deal of work has to be done here by the leaders of Kosovo, by the leaders of all communities of Kosovo," Sawers said, adding that the more Kosovo leaders work together, the more they can understand each other and help achieve their goals.


UN-mediated talks on the future status of Kosovo were launched last November, while the first direct meeting of delegations from Pristina and Belgrade are due to take place in February.


Formally still a province of Serbia, Kosovo has been administered by the UN since mid-1999, when NATO ousted Serbian forces accused of atrocities against civilians while fighting ethnic Albanian insurgents.


The majority ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo sees independence as the only possible status for the province, while Serbia, considering Kosovo the cradle of its spirituality, insists on retaining sovereignty and offers wide autonomy instead.