04 November 2006

Kosovo: President says Serb elections must not delay final status decision


Pristina, 9 Oct. (AKI) - Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu said on Monday that snap elections in Serbia should not mean deferral of a decision on the final status of the breakaway Kosovo province beyond the end of this year. "We are interested in not postponing the status solution for anyone's elections and in finishing this by the end of 2006, in accordance with the principles of the Contact Group," Sejdiu told Serbian Radio Free Europe.

"In an agreement with the international community, Kosovo postponed elections planned for the end of the status process, for the end of this year, and that is why there is no reason to wait for any other elections, such as the elections in Serbia", Sejdiu said.

The six nation Contact Group - containing diplomatic representatives from United States, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Russia - had signalled they want Kosovo's final status to be settled by the end of 2006. However the Serbian parliament adopted a new constitution in late September that states Kosovo is "an inalienable part of Serbia." The new constitution has yet to be confirmed at a referendum set for 28-29 October, with a general election expected to follow in December.

Sejdiu said UN special envoy on the status of Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari must "propose a formula for a direct status solution for Kosovo, and then allow all other international officials to act." AFP news agency quoted Ahtisaari on Monday told a seminar on Kosovo held at the Finnish parliament he does not think the ethnic Albanians and Serbs will be able to reach a negotiated settlement on the final status of the Serbian province.

The negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, which has been administered by the UN since 1999, began in February but have so far resulted in deadlock, especially on the key question of the province's future status. Most of its overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian majority want independence from Serbia, which is opposed by the tiny minority of Serbs remaining in the province and by the Serb government.

Violence flared in the province when the Kosovo Liberation Army, supported by ethnic Albanians, came out in open rebellion against Serbian rule in the mid-1990s, sparking a brutal Yugoslav military crackdown. Serbian forces began a campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' against Kosovo Albanians, amid a NATO bombing campaign that drove them from the province. Some 800,000 people fled to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro and approximately 10,000 died in the conflict.