13 November 2006

Kosovo: Washington 'nervous' over final status, says Serb official



Belgrade, 26 Oct. (AKI) - The United States is showing signs of jitteriness over the status of the breakaway province of Kosovo, as the international community moves away from granting Kosovo the independence wanted by most of its overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian majority, the Serbian government coordinator for Kosovo, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, has said.


Raskovic Ivic was commenting on a "slip of tongue" by American envoy to Kosovo Frank Wiesner, who stated in the Kosovo capital Pristina on Tuesday that Washington wants the status issue resolved this year. "We will insist on independence - excuse me - we will insist on [determination of] the final status by the end of this year," Wiesner told journalists.


Wiesner's comments particularly irritated Belgrade - which opposes Kosovo's independence - by claiming the status of the province in which ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs by 17 to one, was no longer a Serbian matter, but one for "Kosovo itself and the international community."


Kosovo has been under United Nations control since 1999, when NATO airstrikes drove Serb forces out of the province amid an ethnic cleansing campaign and gross human rights abuses. The United Security Council has hinted it wants to make a decision on Kosovo's status this year, but Belgrade's media speculated that Russia and China might use a veto in the UN Security Council to block Kosovo's independence. To pre-empt this, the US is now considering bypassing the UN, and leave it to each country to recognise Kosovo independence individually, according to media reports.