12 November 2006

UN negotiator's contract in Kosovo extended


Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 19 Oct 2006

VIENNA, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - United Nations mediator Maarti Ahtisaari's posting to Kosovo has been extended, his spokesperson Hua Jiang announced on Thursday, adding that he will still present his recommendations before the end of the year on the future status of the Albanian majority Serbian province.

"The UN team's contract, including that of the special envoy (Maarti Ahtisaari) has been extended," she told AFP, declining to specify a new date for the end of the mandate.

"But it's an internal affair not linked to the process that's underway and (Ahtisaari) is working intensively in order to present his recommendations at the date already specified," she added.

UN-backed negotiations between ethnic Albanian and Serbian leaders began in February, but have failed to produce any significant progress.

Ahtisaari said last week that he no longer believed a negotiated accord was possible on the status of the province.

The mediator however denied rumours about difficulties with his report on Wednesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, affirming that it would be published "before the end of the year".

Participants at the North Atlantic Council also underlined that the current stituation in Kosovo was not tenable and warned that a solution may need to be imposed on both parties in the case of a prolonged stalemate.

A meeting between the envoy and the contact group -- consisting of Germany, the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Russia -- is planned for Saturday in Vienna.

Kosovo, which is technically still a Serbian province, has been administered by the United Nations and NATO since 1999.